College Board Forum 2022

ARC: Partnering to Understand the Impacts of Covid-19 on Fall 2021 College Enrollment

On day two of College Board’s return to an in-person National Forum, more than 100 K–12 and higher ed professionals attended “The Pandemic’s Ongoing Impact: Enrollment Outcomes for the Fall of 2021 Cohort” to learn how colleges are adapting in the wake of covid-19.

Rodney Morrison, vice president for enrollment management at the University of Delaware, kicked things off by sharing the challenges he and his colleagues experienced as a result of the pandemic, including unprecedented low enrollment in fall 2020. 

As the pandemic continued to create uncertainty moving into 2021, the future of enrollment at their institution remained unclear, particularly as they saw the number of applications and enrollment grow in the fall of 2021. Faced with higher-than-expected enrollment and the responsibility of meeting the unique needs of their students, administrators at the University of Delaware knew they had to reassess their strategy.

The challenges we’ve all faced are tremendous and such that for the next several years we’re going to continue to have these challenges.

Rodney Morrison, Vice President for Enrollment Management, University of Delaware

But they couldn’t do this alone. In partnership with 50 higher education institutions across the country and College Board, Rodney and his team set out to gather data to help combat pandemic-related challenges.

Next, Joe Williams, executive director of higher ed access, outreach, and innovation at College Board, discussed the Admissions Research Consortium (ARC)—a College Board initiative to support colleges and universities, including the University of Delaware, in their quest to gain a deeper understanding of how the pandemic impacted application requirements and evaluations as well as how enrolled students performed. Additionally, the research aimed to provide insight into prepandemic enrollment policies that should be carried forward and those in need of more research.

Matt McGann, dean of admission and financial aid at Amherst College, shared that to best live its mission, Amherst would continue to lean on the work of ARC to inform how test scores are used in its admissions process.

I see the work of the ARC as a key part in that decision and to inform other parts of our work.

Matt McGann, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, Amherst College

At the conclusion of their research, ARC reported the following:

  • Applications to ARC colleges grew substantially between fall 2020 and fall 2021. Growth existed across all student subgroups.
  • Offers of admission to ARC colleges grew over time and in 3 out of 4 ARC college segments.
  • ARC college enrollment grew substantially between fall 2020 and fall 2021. Growth existed across all college segments and nearly all student subgroups.
  • Representation of diverse student groups (racial, socioeconomic) among enrolled students at ARC colleges is slow to move.
  • A student’s test score is the strongest determinant of their decision to submit a score. Applicants with the same relative score have the same probabilities of disclosing that score, regardless of demographics.

To learn more about the ARC research, please visit