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 2014 and Fall 2015 admission cycles, the number of applications from first-time freshmen increased 6 percent; applications from prospective transfer students increased by 4 percent; and international student applications increased by 23 percent, on average.

Online Applications Are the Norm: For the Fall 2014 admission cycle, four-year colleges and universities received an average of 94 percent of applications online, up from 68 percent in Fall 2007 and only 49 percent in Fall 2005.

Colleges Accept Nearly Two-Thirds of First-Time Freshmen Applicants; Slight Decline in National Average Acceptance Rate Stabilizes: The average selectivity rate—percentage of applicants who are offered admission—at four-year colleges and universities in the United States was 65.8 percent for Fall 2014. 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 Stabilizes: The average yield rate for Fall 2014 (36.2 percent) increased slightly after a long and steady decline from 48.7 percent in 2002 to 35.7 percent in Fall 2013.

Transfer Acceptance Rate Slightly Lower than Freshmen Rate; Yield Much Higher: Among institutions that enroll transfer students, average selectivity for Fall 2015 was 61 percent, compared to 65 percent for first-time freshmen. However, more than half (55 percent) of transfer applicants who were admitted ultimately enrolled, compared to only 29 percent of freshman admits.

International Student Acceptance Rate is Low; Yield on Par with Transfer Students: At institutions that enroll first-time international students, the Fall 2015 admit rate for this population (34 percent) was much lower than the overall freshman acceptance rate. The average yield rate for international students is 52 percent.

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

Explore the 2015 State of College Admissions

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NACAC Research

College Counseling for Latino and Underrepresented Students

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

This report, developed by NACAC & Hobsons, highlights promising state- and school-level practices using individual learning plans (ILPs) to prepare students for success beyond high school.