TCU saw an increase in the number of applications received by the early action deadline this year despite the uncertainty brought by the pandemic.
Mandy Castro, TCU’s director of admission, said the uncertainty of whether TCU will have in-person or online classes for the fall of 2021 did not affect the number of applications that were submitted.
However, she said the change could come in the number of students that ultimately enroll.
“Families trust TCU to be doing the best for their students,” said Castro. But, she said, “If other schools open up and host in-person classes and we stay closed, I think we’ll take a hit on that.”
Chelsea Fulfer, a prospective student from New Mexico, said it was “extremely important” for her classes to be in-person.
“It is a lot easier for me to learn when I have someone in the room teaching me,” Fulfer said.
Before the applications started coming in, Castro said she had no idea how many students would be applying because she usually gauges student interest with in-person interactions.
“There is usually some quantifiable means for us to be able to determine, but this was just a shot in the dark.”
Searching close to home
TCU has also intensified its efforts to recruit students who were accepted to TCU but decided to go to college elsewhere.
Traditionally, TCU mostly recruits for transfers outside of Texas, but since the pandemic began, the numbers have skewed more heavily toward in the state.
“If going away to college is no longer your best option, we would like you to consider coming to TCU,” said Castro.
Elimination of testing requirement seen in applications
One of the changes made for this application process was making the SAT or ACT requirement optional because of the difficulties the pandemic created.
“I’m not planning on submitting the SAT,” said Emma Thompson, a prospective student from southern California. “I actually signed up for six SATs, and they all got canceled.”
Only about half of the students applying to TCU have submitted either the SAT or ACT, Castro said.
Even before the elimination, the relevance of the test in admission decisions has been gradually decreasing as TCU has opted for a more holistic approach.
“It’s an outlier in all of this because it doesn’t tell us how well you will fit at TCU or how well you are going to do in college,” Castro said. “It really is just a number.”
She recognized that a higher income gives applicants a chance at earning a higher score, so “we don’t want to be the school that creates further chasms for our students to navigate.”
She does not foresee the test becoming a requirement again after the pandemic.
Financial uncertainty for university and applicants
The pandemic’s economic impact has continued to factor into challenges for upcoming applicants.
The new budget has not been allocated, but with tuition staying the same, Castro hopes increases in financial aid are enough to meet student needs.
“I feel like TCU is doing the right thing now,” she said. “They are halting all the capital projects, they are looking at how to fill student aid packages, and that is a great message for us to send to families.”