The Class of 2025 welcomed 233 new members to Emory College and 149 to Oxford College on Feb. 3 through Early Decision II. Continuing a trend displayed during Early Decision I, both schools received an increased number of applications compared to previous years, with the pool growing by 10% for Emory and 12% for Oxford. 

The admission rates for Emory College and Oxford remained steady at 14% and 14.5%, respectively.

Applicants continued to take advantage of the University’s test-optional policy, as nearly 38% of students at Emory College and 48% at Oxford were admitted without standardized test scores, according to Dean of Admission John Latting and Oxford Dean of Enrollment Services Kelley Lips. 

Emory Admissions Building. (The Emory Wheel/Matthew Friedman, contributing writer)

On Feb. 4, the University announced the policy will extend into the 2021-2022 application season, a decision which Lips explained is meant to make the application process more accessible.

“The students who seem to be the most disadvantaged in the COVID pandemic in general are underrepresented students,” Lips said. “We just really wanted to make sure that we were equalizing the playing field for all students and that the test would not impede their ability to apply.”

Latting cited the test-optional policy, which many universities have adopted in recent months, as one of the causes for the increased racial and socioeconomic diversity displayed in this year’s applicant pool. Far more Black and Hispanic students applied in the Early Decision II round than is typical, Latting said, stating that around half of all students applied for need-based financial aid. 

Latting said the University will continue to collect data on how the test-optional policy impacts the applicant pool. Above all, he stressed that the admission team’s goal is assessing academic preparedness and shaping a class that meets Emory’s standards.

“The fact that we’re test optional is a sign of flexibility of what credentials students need to submit to be considered for admission, but it is not a sign of flexibility about our insisting about academic preparation,” Latting said. “We’re really very determined and really disciplined about that.”

Some students, like Long Island native Helen Andrade (25C), had no scores to submit due to test centers closing and were worried about its effect on admission. Although Andrade applied to a different school in the Early Decision I round, she became increasingly disillusioned with her choice over time and was “relieved” when she was rejected. 

“I was really happy that I didn’t get in,” Andrade said. “I realized then that Emory was my top choice this whole time. I was so happy that they had [Early Decision II]. I was so grateful for that.”

Eric Jones (25C) from Millburn, New Jersey, came to a similar conclusion after being rejected from another school in the Early Decision I round. While Jones plans on entering the business school, he is eager to take advantage of the liberal arts education Emory offers by dabbling in courses outside of his pre-professional track. 

“I could pick up another interest and experiment with the class and start to really like it,” Jones said. “I think at a place like Emory, you’re totally able to do that. And not only are you able to do it, they will encourage you to be exploratory and do that.”

Jones cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s proximity to the Atlanta campus and the accessibility of Emory Healthcare as valuable resources that factored into his decision. 

Danny Jackson (25Ox) took COVID-19 into account during his college search and found Oxford more appealing than other larger schools he considered.

“COVID definitely affected the process,” Jackson, a native of Miami Beach, Florida, said. “Big-city schools that are very densely packed seem a lot less appealing as opposed to schools that are in a much smaller environment such as Oxford.”

All three students said they capitalized upon virtual resources to learn about Emory, from virtual tours and information sessions to social media accounts and student forums. They noted that relying heavily on such impersonal interactions was frustrating at times, but they are nonetheless eager to join the Emory community and remain confident in their decision.

“One of the questions I asked to every student, every school I applied to I said, ‘What are the biggest positives, and what are the biggest negatives?’” Jones recounted. “Nobody that I talked to at Emory had many negatives. … All these schools are great, and there are nice people everywhere, but when you don’t hear it from anyone, I know that’s a good sign.”