10 College Admission Trends

Cliché: State of affairs.    
POCS Reality: There are trends in the college process. 


The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) State of College Admission report shows key trends in the transition from high school to college. The 2011 edition concerns the Fall 2010 admission cycle during the economic decline and demographic changes. How should the college-bound plan? NACAC worries about the future:

Prolonged economic decline and/or uncertainty could make it more difficult for both college transition professionals and students/families to adhere to fair practices in the admission decision.

Here are 10 of their findings:

1. Economics. Students are weighing colleges costs as a more important factor and colleges compete “for students who can afford to pay the full price of tuition, including high-income, international and/or out-of-state students, as demand for financial aid increases.”

2. College Enrollment. “Total college enrollment is expected to continue increasing” and “women have enrolled in college at a higher rate than men in almost every year.”

3. College Applications. Students are submitting more applications and colleges “are enrolling increasingly smaller proportions of their accepted student pool.” Students are submitting more online applications.

4. Early Admission Programs. Early Decision (ED) applications have decreased and Early Action (EA) applications have increased. The gap between ED and Regular Decision acceptance rates have narrowed.

5. Wait List. More colleges are using wait lists but fewer students are being admitted from wait lists. “Use of a wait list is one strategy that colleges may use to mitigate the uncertainty associated with the increase in average applications per student and declining yield. However, over-utilization of the wait list strategy may complicate students’ college choice process.”

6. Top Admission Factors:

  • grades in college preparatory courses
  • strength of curriculum
  • standardized admission test scores
  • overall high school grade point average
  • the essay
  • student’s demonstrated interest (include campus visits, contact with the admission office, applying through Early Decision or Early Action, and essay/recommendations)
  • class rank
  • counselor and teacher recommendations
  • extracurricular activities

7. Moderately Important Admission Factors: Between 25 and 31 percent of colleges rated:

  • race/ethnicity
  • first generation status
  • high school attended
  • alumni relations

8. School Counselors and College Counseling. College-bound high school students benefit from access to college information and counseling in high school. On average, there is 1 counselor per 272 students. 

9. Admission Officers. On average, there are 527 applications for each college admission officer. The average ratio at public institutions was 981:1, compared to 402:1 at private institutions.

10. Cost of Recruiting. Big bucks are spent on recruiting. “On average, colleges and universities spent about $585 to recruit each applicant for Fall 2010 admission, $806 to recruit each admitted student and $2,408 to recruit each enrolled student (when admission staff salaries and benefits were included in the admission office budget).”

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: The economy impacts the college process and affects both colleges and families. Wise college-bound students heed NACAC’s findings about college admission trends and plan accordingly.