As a college consultant for over a decade, I have been waiting for the promised decline in admission competitiveness due to predicted changes in population patterns. Specifically, the prediction was that admission will become less challenging at more competitive colleges when the predicted decline in teenaged population occurs.
What researchers did not take into account is the college-going rate increase. Once upon a time, a minority of students went to college while most others took other opportunities. Now, we live in a time when most teens expect to attend college.
In addition to the increase in the college going rate, the other factors likely to keep the competition high at traditionally competitive colleges include the growth in educational opportunities in k-12 for ambitious families and the increase in private opportunities to enhance student competitiveness.
Other factors that could affect college admission patterns include political shifts that will affect who will apply and be offered admission to which colleges. For example, how would the idea of free college affect admissions at public colleges? Would forgiveness of parent student loan debt result in a change in where the children of parents with student loan debt apply? What will be the impact of an increase in students attending college outside the US? How will shifts in the job market in relation to technology affect the desire for a college education? Will the popularity and cost savings of online college opportunities at prestigious colleges reduce the desire for a residential college education? Will the movement to obtain as much as two years of college credit in high school eliminate the freshman year? One thing is for certain, change is coming to our notion of higher education.