Oct 26, 2011

15 College Admissions Trends Worth Watching

Every year, the Arlington-based National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) surveys its members to get a picture of what’s happening in the world of college admissions. This year, NACAC sent its survey to 1,263 four-year postsecondary institutions and received about a 26 percent response.

In addition to the surveys, the 2011 State of College Admission factors in information from an earlier NACAC survey on counseling trends, the College Board Annual Survey of Colleges, and publicly available data collected by the federal government.

While the report goes into considerable detail, the following are 15 trends that stand out as worth watching:

  1. The total number of high school graduates is down. The number of high school graduates in the U.S. peaked in 2008-09 at 3.3 million and will continue to decline through 2014-15.

  2. College enrollment is up. As of 2009, approximately 20.4 million students enrolled in college. This represents about 70% of all students who completed high school that year.

  3. Applications are up. About 73% of the colleges responding to the survey reported an increase in the number of applications received.

  4. Acceptance rates are down. As a result of the increase in number of applications received, acceptance rates are trending downward from 71% in 2001 to 65.5% in 2010.

  5. Applications per student are up. More than 77% of freshmen submitted 3 or more applications; 25% submitted 7 or more applications.

  6. Yield is down. Colleges are enrolling increasingly smaller proportions of their accepted student pool. The average yield for fall 2010 went down to 41% from 49% ten years earlier.

  7. Wait lists are up. Forty-eight percent of colleges used a wait list compared to 39% in 2009.

  8. Admission from wait lists is down. Colleges accepted an average of 28% of all students who chose to remain on wait lists, down from 34% in fall of 2009.

  9. Early decision is down. In 2010, only 38% of colleges reported increases in early decision applicants after several years in which nearly half reported increases. Similarly, only 36% reported increases in early decision admissions, down from 65% in 2009. And the acceptance rate gap reported between those who apply early decision vs. regular decision has shrunk considerably from 15 percentage points in 2009 to 7 percentage points (57% vs. 50% for regular decision applicants).

  10. Early action is up. Seventy-two percent of colleges reported increases in early action applications, and 68% reported increases in early action admissions.

  11. Online applications are up. On average, colleges received 85% of their applications online, up from 58% in 2006.

  12. Selectivity is up. The national share of colleges accepting fewer than 50% of applicants rose to nearly 20% in 2010, and they now enroll about 20% of all full time first-year undergraduates.

  13. Social networking is up. The proportion of colleges linking admission websites to social networking sites increased from 73% to 91%. About 30% have blogs by admissions officers, online chat rooms, and online message boards available for prospective student use.

  14. Emphasis on ‘demonstrated interest’ is up. The percentage of colleges attaching considerable or moderate importance to demonstrated interest increased from 48% in 2009 to 54% in 2010. It is now ranked higher than counselor or teacher recommendations.

  15. The ratio of applicants to admissions officers is up. On average, the ratio of applications to admissions officers at colleges went up from 514:1 in 2009 to 527:1 in 2010. The average ratio at public institutions was 981:1, compared to 402:1 at private colleges.

Visit the NACAC website to download a copy of the complete report (there may be a charge).

1 comment:

  1. This is incredible research, Nancy! High school counselors should have this information readily available. I will definitely forward this information to my daughter's high school counselors. She attends Johns Creek High School in Alpharetta, Georgia, and I must say that they are doing a stupendous job in keeping the kids, and their parents informed.

    Samantha W. Davis, author of "Give Our Kids A Real Head Start" available on www.amazon.com

    "Every 26 seconds a high school student drops out of school"