2018 College Admission Trends

April 9, 2018

 

Every year the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) releases its State of College Admissions report, with information on what admissions officers are looking for in applicants, what has changed from one year to the next, and more. Here are top trends that college bound students should be aware of:

 

  • College Application Volume is Expected to Increase (Again).  The number of applicants from first-year students increased 7%; applications from prospective transfer students increased by 1 percent; and international student applications increased by 13 percent, on average.

  • The Number of US High School Students Has Started to Level-Off.  The year 2000 was a peak birth year in the US.  Colleges are broadening their recruitment efforts to bring in more transfer and international students to keep their applicant numbers strong, larger, and more competitive.

  • Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA) Application Options are Important.  According to NACAC, the average yield rate for early decision (binding) admits is 87% – considerably higher than the overall average yield rate (35.1%.) An early decision or early action application option can be an extra motivator for students to apply because admit rates tend to be higher and they’ll receive their decisions earlier in the admissions cycle.

  • Colleges use Supplemental Essays and Demonstrated Interest as “Soft Factors” to Gauge Whether or Not a Student Will Attend if Admitted.  This is why colleges use school-specific essays to their applications, to determine if a student is serious about attending, and if they have spent considerable time determining if the university is a good fit or not.  Examples of actions student take to take a deeper review of school may include: a college visit with an overnight stay and taking a class.  Talking to another student from their high school attending the college, awareness of faculty with a particular research focus, or enrolling in a high school student summer class or special program. 

  • Wait List Activity Increases; Likelihood of Wait List Acceptance is Low.  For the Fall 2016 admission cycle, 39 percent of institutions reported using a wait list.   On average, institutions accepted 23 percent of all students who chose to remain on wait lists. For selective colleges, it is not uncommon to have several thousand students on a wait list with less than 50 admitted. 

  • Top Admission Office Factors for First-Time Freshmen.  Grades, High School Curriculum, and Test Scores: grades in college preparatory courses, overall high school GPA, admission test scores, and strength of curriculum. Among the next most important factors were the essay, a student’s demonstrated interest, counselor and teacher recommendations, extracurricular activities, and class rank.

    Top Factor for International Students is English Proficiency Exam Scores.  After English proficiency, the factors for admission decisions with international applicants are remarkably similar to those for domestic students, with one notable exception. A greater proportion of colleges rated the essay/writing sample as considerably important for international applicants, likely because of the additional confirmation of English skills that the essay provides.

    For Transfer Admission Decisions, College Grades Matter Most.  The only transfer admission decision factors that were rated considerably important by a substantial proportion of colleges were overall GPA at prior post-secondary institution(s) and average grades in transferrable courses.

  • In Georgia, UGA - Early Action Applicants Brought Record Academic Credentials.  UGA’s President Jere W. Morehead reported “The academic achievements of these 2018 admitted students are remarkable, they were selected from out most outstanding pool of applicants for early action ever.” Early action applicants averaged GPA was 4.11, reflecting dedication to academic excellence and rigorous coursework such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses. The average ACT score of students being offered admission through early action is 32, which exceeds last year’s record of 31. The average SAT score is 1390, which exceeds last year’s average of 1363. The mid 50th percentile ranges for the ACT and SAT scores of admitted students are 30-32 and 1320-1470, respectively. The average number of AP, IB and dual enrollment courses is nine, with a mid-50th percentile range of seven to 11.

  • Georgia Tech - This year 18,124 students applied through Early Action, a 16 percent increase over last year. The admit rate for this round is 26 percent overall - 46 percent for Georgia students and 19 percent for those from out of state.The middle 50 percent range of SAT scores was 1390-1530 out of 1600. The middle 50 percent range of the composite ACT score was 32-35 out of 36.Beyond strong academics, the admitted students have impacted their schools, communities and families, More than 35,600 students total have applied for admission to Georgia Tech for next year — a record high, and about a 13 percent increase from 2017. Students applied from all 50 states, 137 countries and 121 counties in Georgia.

Starting your college prep early in high school, will strengthen your success in the college admissions process. 

 

 

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Susan Thrower, MS

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