by Emily Toffelmire, former admissions officer at University of Southern California
The 2020-2021 admission cycle has been a beast. It’s caused even more anxiety and stress than would normally be expected, and it’s laid bare inequity of our education system as well as the fragile state of so many of our institutions of higher learning. It’s been hard to identify any slices of good news out there but I do consider the move to test optional and test free admission policies to be a win—a silver lining of a mean and ugly cloud. And there are other silver linings. Despite the enormous pressure and unpredictability of the last year, many admission offices saw 2020 as an opportunity to improve the work they do: to become more accessible to more types of students; to upend years of the same old, same old in their app review process; and to increase transparency when it comes to that process.