America sees a mass increase of applications to top colleges

University of California, California State, Ivy League schools among colleges with increased applications


UCLA received a 10% increase in undergraduate applications this year. Previous years, the applicant numbers never exceeded that. (Photo courtesy of Keena Patel)

This year, the application process had a massive increase in applicants to premier colleges and universities. With this increase, there is more competition when it comes to getting accepted into “prestigious” schools.

According to the University of California Office of the President, 2021 was the year of the highest number of undergraduate applicants to UC schools in history. The data showed that the UC schools received a total of 249,855 applications, a 16.1% increase from the previous year of 203,700. 

According to an article in The New York Times, “The California State system extended the application deadline for all its schools by two weeks, and Cal Poly Pomona managed to close the gap. But its herculean effort, at a time when Ivy League schools had to add an extra week just to consider their influx of applicants, further underscored inequities in higher education that have been widened by the pandemic.” 

These extensions enabled more students to apply to college. Pennsylvania State University saw an 11% increase of applicants, and Harvard University saw a 42% increase, according to The New York Times. 

The California community college scene also saw a rise of student applications. According to the University of California Office of the President, there was a 7.5% increase of applicants from last year. In that group, there are more coming from underdeveloped communities that are applying to colleges and making up 40% of the applicant pool. 

Forbes states that the Common Application is seeing early indicators that the enrollments to colleges, like the Ivy Leagues, will be experiencing an increase in the fall semester.

“Through March 1, 2021, Common App had received 6,060,037 first-year applications to member institutions, an 11% increase over the 2019–20 total through the same date (5,457,932 applications),” the Forbes article reads. 

Even though there are increases in applicants for certain colleges, others are seeing declines. According to The New York Times, state universities in New York had a 14% decrease in applications, even though it is the largest public college system in the country. In Oregon, Portland State University experienced a decline in freshman enrollment by 12%. 

“The declines come at a time when colleges and universities have been battered financially by the coronavirus, with estimated losses of more than $120 billion from plunging enrollment and dried-up revenue streams like food services and athletic events,” The New York Times article states. 

Keena Patel visited the UCLA campus. In the process of seeing the campus she was able to enjoy the views. (Photo courtesy of Keena Patel)

Some seniors at Oak Park High School applied to multiple premier colleges. Senior Sophia Loparco applied to UMass Amhert, University of Oregon, Ohio State University, UCLA, SDSU, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, Indiana University, schools in Arizona and a few others.

The increased competition and applicant pool for such premier colleges hasn’t really had an effect on Loparco. 

“I didn’t really find it harder to get in, per say. I knew what the outcome of the UCs would be just purely because of the criteria they look for in applicants,” Loparco said. 

There was the notion that the competition among applicants might cause students to go out of state for college, or go to community college and transfer to a four-year school after. Although it has been different for each person, the applicants are taking everything into consideration and creating plans as necessary. 

“Honestly, I knew what I wanted for schools and if I didn’t get any of the ones I wanted I would’ve taken a gap or gone to community college and then transferred,” senior Holden Frey said.