Colleges Brace for A Fall-Out of 4-to-10% of Their Fall 2020 Freshman Enrollments; Many Dropping SAT/ACT Requirements

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Cirkled In survey finds 87% of surveyed Admissions Administrators are now projecting freshman fall enrollment, previously forecasted as a net increase, to decline to anywhere between 4 and 10%.

COVID-19: Impact on College Admissions

COVID-19: Impact on College Admissions

It is clear that initial disruption of classes was just the beginning of challenges for colleges. Now that dust has settled, college admission officers are facing a grim reality of drop in enrollment numbers for fall 2020 and beyond. They will need all resources they can summon for new school year.

A report issued by Cirkled In, an online college recruitment platform based on students' holistic portfolios, finds that as a result of the COVID -19 pandemic, 87% of surveyed Admissions Administrators are now moving fall enrollment forecasts, from what was a net increase, to a prediction of a decline in their freshman class enrollment. College Admissions professionals were asked to assess to what extent the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their college enrollment and process.

Key Findings

● 87% of surveyed Admissions Administrators are now moving forecasts from a net increase to a prediction of a decline in their freshman class enrollment
● 93% of surveyed Admissions Administrators now expect to see a drop in their International student enrollment
● 84% of our respondents expected a 4-10% additional increase to those needing financial aid
● 25% of respondents planned on dropping SAT/ACT requirements as a result of the Pandemic

The report reveals that prior to the Coronavirus Pandemic, 55% of surveyed colleges were actually looking forward to favorable recruiting results for the Fall 2020 class. Within the last three weeks, 87% of surveyed Admissions Administrators are now moving forecasts from a net increase to a prediction of a decline in their freshman class enrollment. 42% of respondents expect a drop ranging from 4-9% and 18% of those see the drop exceeding 10% or more.

“Many of our admitted students haven't visited campus so the challenge will be --- can a virtual option replace an on-campus experience?” -Survey Response

International enrollment is expected to fall significantly as 93% of surveyed Admissions Administrators now expect to see a drop in their international student enrollment, close to half of those surveyed expecting declines of greater than 10%.

“In terms of students and the incoming class coming to campus.… International students are not going to make it because they still have to deal with visa issues…with embassies that are shut… all sorts of obstacles” -Jonathan Lindsay, -VP of Enrollment, Goucher College

Colleges will face increased percentage of students needing financial aid. With some institutions already under financial pressures, the additional pressure of increased need will undoubtedly cause institutions to dig deeper into endowments, fundraising and other sources for cash.

With country wide lock-down, it's not surprising that 49% of our respondents are now expecting an additional 4-10% students who will require financial aid in order to be able to attend college. More than 33% see that demand for financial aid going up by 10% or more.

In an era where the SAT/ACT are already under scrutiny as to their validity and fairness in evaluation of candidates, could the added challenge of COVID-19 be the death nail of this 94-year old methodology? Of our survey of Admissions Administrators, 25% of respondents planned on dropping SAT/ACT requirements as a result of the pandemic, this on top of the 44% who already have made them optional.

“We will encourage a more hybrid recruitment approach that features virtual and in-person contact.” -Survey Response

Read more about findings of this report on the Cirkled In blog. Detailed survey results can also be accessed at this Cirkled In Page.

About Cirkled In
Cirkled In is an award-winning 21st-century college recruitment platform, matching colleges and universities with the best-fit students, based on students’ rich, holistic portfolios. Students compile all their activities and showcase themselves in the best possible way to get discovered and recruited by colleges and universities. Cirkled In creates a win-win by making the best-fit match resulting in improved enrollment, retention and graduation rates. Cirkled In was awarded "Top 10 Companies in US" by American Business Awards and also won two People’s Choice Awards for Favorite New Product.

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Jeff Harrison

Reetu Gupta
@cirkledin
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