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Chapter 1: College applications

Each year, US colleges and universities receive hundreds of thousands of applications from first-time domestic students, transfer students, and students from abroad. Key findings regarding application volume, acceptance, and yield rates include:

Growth in Application Volume Continues: Between the Fall 2015 and Fall 2016 admission cycles, the number of applications from first-time freshmen increased 7 percent; applications from prospective transfer students increased by 1 percent; and international student applications increased by 13 percent, on average.

Colleges Accept Nearly Two-Thirds of First-Time Freshmen Applicants; on Average; National Average Acceptance Rate Rebounds: The average selectivity rate—percentage of applicants who are offered admission—at four-year colleges and universities in the United States was 66.1 percent for Fall 2015. The national average acceptance rate has edged up from 64.7 percent in Fall 2013, after reaching a low of 63.9 percent in Fall 2012.

Decline in Average Yield Rate for First-Time Freshmen: The average yield rate for Fall 2015 (35.1 percent) decreased slightly from 36.2 percent in Fall 2014.

Transfer Acceptance Rate Slightly Lower than Freshmen Rate; Yield Much Higher: Among institutions that enroll transfer students, average selectivity for Fall 2016 was 62 percent, compared to 66 percent for first-time freshmen. However, almost two-thirds (65 percent) of transfer applicants who were admitted ultimately enrolled, compared to only 28 percent of freshman admits.

International Student Acceptance Rate is Low; Yield Slightly Higher than First-Time Freshmen: At institutions that enroll first-time international students, the admit rate for this population (55 percent) is lower than both transfer and first-time freshmen. The average yield rate for international students is 32 percent.

Read Chapter 1 or download the State of College Admission report for more information. 

Explore the 2017 State of College Admission

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NACAC Research

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In order to understand the role of the school counselor in preparing Latino and other underrepresented students for the transition to college, Excelencia in Education and NACAC conducted a national survey and observed counseling practices at six US high schools that were successfully supporting underrepresented populations during the college application process.

Career Paths for Admission Officers: A Survey Report

This report presents the results of a survey of NACAC admission professionals, offering insightful observations on their career experiences and advice to others to advance in the profession.

Individualized Learning Plans for College and Career Readiness: State Policies and School-Based Practices

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