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College Admissions Trends

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 @ 04:26 PM

College Admissions TrendsEmphasis on Class Rank is Down, Course Load and Demonstrated Interest Up

This week, the National Association for College Admissions Counseling released the “2012 State of College Admission” report and the results were very similar to the trends we have seen here at IvyWise: The number of applications are up, social media plays a big role in recruitment, and there is an increased emphasis on demonstrated interest.

Things have changed a lot over the past 10 years  

With the introduction of tools like the Common Application, the transition from a paper application to an entirely online application process has become nearly complete in the last decade with colleges receiving 85% of all applications online. These new tools and technologies have also given rise to the number of online admission notifications and virtual college fairs.  

For parents helping students navigate the college admission process, these changes may be a bit confusing. It’s important to understand what will be done electronically and what will not. Teacher recommendations will be submitted online, but things like standardized test scores and transcripts will be sent either electronically or by mail by the high school.  

Social media has also had a huge impact on admissions, with nearly 97% of colleges reporting integrating social media into their recruitment and outreach efforts, compared to 37% in 2002. This is also significant in light of the recent Kaplan findings that students’ social media profiles can have an effect on how their application is reviewed.  

Grades, GPA, course load, and standardized test scores are still a big factor in your applicant profile, but the emphasis on class rank has declined recently. Only 19% of schools reported in 2011 that class rank was of considerable importance, down from 42% nearly 20 years ago. This is because the value of a student’s class rank can be hard to calculate since high schools across the country vary dramatically in quality, size, and how they calculate class rank.  

So what does this mean for me?

According to the report, yield rates (the number of students who were accepted to a school and actually attended) have been steadily declining over the past few years, forcing admissions officers to find other ways to better predict who will enroll and who won’t. This is partly due to the fact that more students are applying to more schools. The number of students applying to three or more schools has gone from 67% to 79% in the past year.  

How does this affect your chances of admission?  

Because so many students are applying to more than a few schools, and because schools want to keep their yield rates consistent, there is more emphasis placed on a student’s demonstrated interest (how likely you are to attend if a school admits you).  This can include anything from your “Why This School?” essay, to official visits, to even “liking” a college’s Facebook page. When putting together your applications, make sure you do plenty of research and become familiar with the school’s programs, classes, organizations, and traditions in order to convey that you have a full understanding of the school. This shows admissions officers that you’ve done your homework and you’re genuinely interested in attending if admitted.  

While the emphasis on strong grades, courses, and standardized test scores has gone up over the last decade, there has been a big increase in the number of test-optional institutions the past few years. If you feel that your ACT or SAT scores may hurt your application, you may want to consider checking out some schools where test scores are de-emphasized.

The college admissions process may be changing and evolving each year, but one thing remains the same: you. When going through the admissions process, remember you can never go wrong by just being yourself, working hard, and applying to the schools that are the best fit for you!

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