The Latest College Admission Trends

What are the latest college admission trends?
Every year, the National Association for College Admission Counseling releases a survey that attempts to answer that question. Here are some of the trends that jumped out at me when I was reading the 2011 State of College Admission:

College Applications on the Rise

Most schools (73%) experienced an increase in applications. Not surprisingly, students are completing more college applications. Twenty five percent of freshmen from the class of 2010 submitted seven or more applications, according to surveyed schools, which was up from 23% last year.

Growing Use of Wait Lists

One of the consequences of more students completing higher numbers of applications is the growing reliance of private schools, in particular, to use wait lists. With so many students applying to a large number of schools, colleges create wait lists as an insurance policy if they come up short of freshmen
Of the schools surveyed, 48% of institutions used a wait list in 2010 compared with just 39% in the prior year. Getting off a wait list was harder. Schools accepted 28% of applicants on wait lists compared with 34% a year earlier.
Here, by the way, is my opinion of college wait lists:  College Wait List Run Amuck

Declining Acceptance Rate?

The acceptance rate for colleges that completed the survey was 65.5%. I’d like to interject here that this acceptance rate has got to be artificially low since 70% of the schools participating in the survey were private institutions, which tend to reject more students.
In contrast, when UCLA surveyed freshmen across the country during the 2010-11 school year, 79% of them said they had been accepted into their first choice school. I think that’s a far more realistic figure. Here is a post that I wrote about the UCLA survey earlier in the year: 25 Facts About Today’s College Freshmen.

Early Decision Advantage Shrinks

The admission advantage that students enjoy by applying early decision dropped this year. During the 2010 admission season, 57% of early decision applicants received acceptances versus 50% for those who applied regular decision. In contrast, during the 2009 admission season, the gap between ED and regular decision was 15 percentage points.

College’s Growing Popularity

The number of high school graduates peaked in 2008, but the number of students heading to college continues to grow. The number of college-bound freshmen isn’t expected to begin shrinking until at least 2020. So where are all these extra students coming from? Largely from minority groups.
Women continue to outnumber the men on college campuses. Women represent 56% of undergrads.

 The Cost of Wooing Teenagers

For all the teenagers and parents who think applying to colleges is too expensive, consider this: colleges spent about $585 to recruit each applicant for the 2010 admission season.

More from The College Solution:

Do All Admission Reps Know What They’re Doing?
How to Determine Your EFC
What Is Your Expected Family Contribution
Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes a college blog for and US News & World Report. Follow her on Twitter.


Let's Connect

Leave a Reply