Survey of Higher Education Enrollment and Admissions Officers

Feb. 2021
Sample Size: 207
Demographics: administrators
Topics: Covid-19 Admissions And Enrollment

Top Findings:

  • Following several years of a more gradual trend towards test-optional, the four-year institution admissions policy landscape has shifted towards test-optional policies after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Most institutions that adopted test-optional policies as a result of COVID-19 did not anticipate making policy changes prior to 2020 and have adopted temporary or pilot policies; these institutions indicate being somewhat unlikely to return to test-required, with significant uncertainty remaining. Institutions that adopted test-optional policies prior to COVID-19 are highly unlikely to return to test-required.
  • Institutions of all types of admissions policies are unlikely to become test-blind, citing that students should be allowed to choose to submit test scores and that test score data is too useful to abandon altogether.
  • COVID-19 has differentially affected application volume across the higher education landscape depending on institutional profile, with selective institutions largely observing increases in applications, and less selective institutions experiencing more mixed results.
  • Even as many four-year institutions become test-optional, most still report significant use of testing data throughout the enrollment process; COVID-19 has impacted the percentage of students submitting test scores (with test-optional institutions reporting a 20-30% decrease in students submitting scores); many institutions note that this reduction in data has led to increased difficulty in some parts of their candidate evaluation process, with the most pronounced pain point related to awarding merit scholarships.
  • As admissions decision makers at four-year institutions look to the future, most anticipate that sourcing students and ensuring student success and retention will present the greatest challenges in the enrollment process.