Prestigious universities like Cornell never have a hard time attracting students. But this year, the admissions office in Ithaca, N.Y., is swimming in 17,000 more applications than it has ever received before, driven mostly by the school’s decision not to require standardized test scores during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We saw people that thought ‘I would never get into Cornell’ thinking, ‘Oh, if they’re not looking at a test score, maybe I’ve actually got a chance,’” said Jonathan Burdick, Cornell’s vice provost for enrollment.
But while selective universities like Cornell and its fellow Ivy League schools have seen unprecedented interest after waiving test scores, smaller and less recognizable schools are dealing with the opposite issue: empty mailboxes.
In early December, applications to Cal Poly Pomona, east of Los Angeles and part of the California State University system, were down 40 percent over the previous year from would-be freshmen, and 52 percent from transfer students, most of whom started their higher education at community colleges.