Created: February 18, 2021 08:15 PM
(NBC News) The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the college admissions landscape and making some schools harder to get into.
Cameron Grant, a New Jersey high school senior, is finally finished with all of her college applications.
"I started working on my main college essay in August of 2020," she says.
She applied to 24 schools, but has only seen a couple of those campuses in person, navigating virtual sessions and video interviews for her applications.
Many of those were for top-tier schools, which will likely to be even more selective this year.
Harvard saw a 57 percent increase in early applications for this year. Yale had 38 percent more, a record high for both schools.
"A big chunk of students are coming in from last year's gap year class, so there are fewer spots for this year's class," explains college admissions coach Hafeez Lakhani.
With fewer spots available and many schools going test-optional due to the pandemic, more students are applying to more schools, which could result in fewer acceptances to go around.
"A school's not going to be accepting multiple, multiple students from that same high school in most cases," says Christopher Rim of Command Education.
Meanwhile, less selective universities actually had drops in their application numbers, and lower enrollment last year, putting many in financial trouble.
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