The University of Rochester has announced a major shift it its Regular Decision and Early Decision II application deadlines for the current admissions cycle.
Dr. Robert J. Alexander, Rochester’s Dean of Admissions, Financial Aid, and Enrollment Management, informed high school counselors on December 4, 2020 that applications for both admission plans, which are typically due in the first days of January are now due January 20 – a full two weeks later than normal.
“In recognition of these turbulent and unprecedented times, the University of Rochester is offering an extension to both our Regular Decision and Early Decision II application deadlines.” wrote Alexander. Students applying by the new deadlines will still be considered for both admission and merit scholarships. He added, “We hope this extension allows students, families, and counselors more time to navigate the challenges associated with COVID-19 and virtual interactions, and to take care of themselves and their families.”
While those are lovely sentiments, as we mentioned previously when discussing Tuft’s decision to move its Early Decision deadline into late November, such dramatic shifts are not taken out of altruism alone. While we don’t have access to internal data from Rochester, what’s becoming clearer is the decision to go test-optional this admissions cycle by many selective and hyper-selective colleges has boomeranged back particularly hard on many typically selective colleges like Rochester that don’t have the name recognition of the Dukes, Penns, or Browns of the world. This is because many students who would have never considered hyper-selective colleges are applying to them instead of colleges that are typically slightly less selective; even the Ivies are test-optional this cycle.
For instance, let’s say you are an average straight A student in the high school Class of 2021 with a 1030 on the SAT; in a typical year you would never apply to anything other than your state university and a few others with relatively low test score averages. This year, you say to yourself, “I might as well put in an app or two to Duke, Harvard, and Vanderbilt since they won’t look at my scores.” And he or she has heard of them in pop culture.
Meanwhile, the typical Rochester applicant, one with, let’s say, a 1350 on the SAT, is now also looking to trade up the rankings lists to Carnegie Mellon, Wash U., or even Yale this year. Rochester likely finds itself in what we’ve call previously a doughnut hole of a situation; Rochester is getting overlooked by both its typical applicants and those academically weaker than its typical applicants all because both groups of applicants are applying to higher ranked schools OR opting for options with retail prices lower than private Rochester (in-state universities, community colleges, etc.) considering the economic disaster brought on by governors and mayors shutting down so much commerce. What a shame for a great school like Rochester! Yet, what a great year for a strong student looking for a great college and a scholarship to consider Rochester. And now such a student has even more time to apply (though we always say, “the early bird gets the worm”). Stay strategic.