For the past ten years, the National Association of College Admission Counselors has been compiling data and publishing an annual report. This year’s report, just released, looks back on the past decade in college admissions and summarizes the data with the following conclusions:
“Apps Are Up and Yields Are Down”
Since 1997, a “healthy majority” (varying from 64-78%) of colleges has reported increases in their application totals over the previous year. The percentage of students applying to more than three colleges has increased to 79% this past year; and the percentage of students applying to more than seven colleges has increased to 29%. (Think about that one: almost one third of all students apply to seven or more colleges.)
In 2005, the average college admission officer read 359 applications. In 2011, the average number of applications read per officer increased to 622. In public institutions, admission officers often must read three times as many applications as admission officers in private colleges. (How carefully are the nuances of a file read—essays, recommendations—versus just plain scores/grades/courses/rank?)
Regardless of how many colleges a student applies to, he or she can still only attend one. Therefore, the “yield” (percentage of those accepting a college’s offer of admission) has dropped significantly. Private colleges’ yields dropped more dramatically after the 2008 “great recession,” from an average of just below 50% in 2005 to 36.45% in 2011. (Note: Since colleges are always concerned about yield, any effort a candidate can make to demonstrate interest to the top choice institution could impact admission in an “otherwise equal” situation.”)
Conclusions: Overall, institutions have become more selective, on average: 66% of students are accepted at public four-year institutions (from 70% ten years ago.) For private colleges, the current acceptance rate is 63%, down from 70% ten years ago. However, “the vast majority of US colleges accept two-thirds or more of their students…One of the biggest misperceptions about admissions is that the process of applying to colleges in the United States is like the process of applying to the Ivy League. People accept that as the norm.” But, it isn’t. A future blog will continue with the NACAC report analysis.
Sarah C. Reese, Executive Director, Informed Educational Solutions
- Study documents admissions trends over last 10 years (insidehighered.com)