Mar 30, 2011

Most Freshmen Continue to be admitted to ‘First-Choice’ Colleges

An interesting trend is emerging in college admissions. While most students report being admitted to first choice colleges, far fewer actually attend them.

According to the CIRP Freshman Survey, UCLA’s annual report on first-year students, of nearly 202,000 freshmen surveyed, 79 percent reported being accepted while only 60.5 percent are attending colleges labeled as "first-choice" among those to which they applied.

Possible explanations for the lower number of students attending first-choice colleges may be found in answers to questions related to finances.

For top reasons described as “very important” in selecting the college attended, 45.5 percent reported being offered being offered financial assistance. And, 62% strongly or somewhat agreed that the current economic situation significantly affected college choice.

One local mom whose son turned down an invitation to attend an expensive private university in favor of a far less pricey in-state option remarked, “Even with the scholarship, we just couldn’t justify the additional expense and we wondered if it was really worth it.”

As this year’s admissions decisions continue to come in, it might be interesting to look at some of the other facts UCLA collected about the current freshman class:

  • 53% are using loans to help pay for college

  • 4.9% reported that their fathers were unemployed—an all-time high for the survey

  • 73.4% reported receiving grants and scholarships—the highest level since 2001 and an increase of 3.4 percent over 2009

  • 16% applied to seven or more colleges

  • 52% attend colleges within 100 miles of home

  • 15.5% attend colleges more than 500 miles from home

  • 78% are living in a college dorm

  • 19% did NO household chores during a typical week as seniors

  • 48% reported having A- or higher grade point averages in high school

  • 71% rated their academic abilities as “above average” or in the highest 10%

For more information on this year’s freshman class or to order a copy of the report, visit UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute website.

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