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Way-Too-Early 2022 Pre-Application Season Predictions


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There are a lot of hot takes on whether the next application cycle will be as cut-throat as this cycle. Some say that there will be a bottleneck effect where many more candidates, who were either shut out or decided to wait, will apply in the 2021-2022 application cycle compared to the 2020-2021 application cycle. Others say that if schools that closed admissions and cut down on admission seats this cycle decide to open up next cycle, then 2021-2022 will not be as bad as 2020-2021.

I would greatly appreciate any insight, further hot takes, or general musings on this topic. Thanks!

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Well it seems incredibly likely that there will be more spots total next year versus this year, simply because I think a lot of those schools that closed their PhD applications will open up again, and so even if schools continue to have reduced admissions that would open up at least a few more spots. 

It also depends on whether GRE requirements are reinstituted since it looks like many more international students applied to US programs than normal because of this (though I got amazing GRE scores, there did not seem to be a correlation with the places I got into this year and the places that allowed me to submit my GRE scores, so my guess is most admissions committees are not taking them as seriously at all and probably will not again). Of course whether or not this makes it easier for YOU depends on all sorts of factors like your country of origin, test taking aptitude, etc. Overall it would be better in terms of accessibility to do away with GRE requirements all together, so even if it means more applicants overall I am strongly in favor of this route. 

There definitely will be people who got shut out this year applying, and anecdotally I get the sense that this number is higher than in most previous years, but not like 100s of people. I imagine a lot of people who got shut out of PhDs got into MAs so won’t be applying for two years, and then a lot of people who got shut out because they decided to apply on a whim probably won’t apply again. 

Applications also almost always go up in a recession (and even though getting a Philosophy PhD might be somewhat of a strange choice to make in a recession, it does seem like that played at least part of a role), so if the economy continues to improve and the US is doing well economically by the fall, then I imagine that would predict a decrease in applicants relative to this year. However, if other countries are still in a recession due to lagging vaccine rollout, etc., then there may still be an increase in applicants from international countries. 

So I guess if I was forced to take a guess, I would say it will ALMOST CERTAINLY not be AS bad as it was this year, MOST LIKELY will just be marginally better or around the same (slightly more spots, slightly fewer or around the same # of applicants overall), and COULD BE BUT PROBABLY WON’T be significantly easier (I think the only way this would happen is if all programs open up and returned to 2019 level of admissions combined with a thriving economy leading to 100s of fewer people applying).

So yeah overall I’d say brace yourself for about the same level of anxiety, maybe slightly less, as we collectively went through this year ?

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  • 1 month later...

Although most of the people admitted will not ever find a permanent position working in the field and it is clear that much of the published work is irrelevant (and self-indulgently so), I imagine that a small but still too large number of people will be admitted to doctoral programs. Many of these people will have no idea what they are in for and might be doing themselves a massive disservice, but a few people who can't tolerate doing anything else will be roughly as happy as they would otherwise.

Edited by you'll_never_get_to_heaven
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