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

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.