Grades Still Most Important Factor in College Admissions

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NACAC’s 2013 State of College Admissions Report Finds Grades Most Important, Students Applying to Fewer Schools

For the first time in 20 years, the percentage of students applying to seven or more schools declined according to NACAC’s 2013 State of College Admissions Report, which surveys admissions trends from the fall 2012 season.

The percentage of students applying to seven or more colleges dropped slightly from 29% in 2011 to 28% in 2012.

The report also found that grades in college prep courses and strength of curriculum are the most important factors in an applicant’s profile, with 82% of colleges surveyed said grades were of “considerable importance” in college admissions decisions, down slightly from 84% last year but still reigning supreme.

65% of colleges rated strength of curriculum as considerably important in 2012, also down slightly from 68% in 2011.

Class rank continues its decline as the factor with the largest drop in importance. Only 13% of colleges rated it as considerably important, down from 42% 20 years ago.

Other highlights from the college admissions report:

  • Number of high school graduates has peaked and will decline slightly before rebounding in 2017-18.
  • The rating of demonstrated interest as “considerably important” is down slightly from 21% to 18%.
  • For the Fall 2012 admission cycle, colleges with Early Decision policies reported a higher acceptance rate for their ED applicants as compared to all applicants.
  • Early Action policies are not increasing yield rates. EA colleges reported a similar yield rate for EA applicants compared to the overall applicant pool.
  • Top factors in admissions decisions in order:
    • Grades
    • Strength of curriculum
    • Standardized test scores
    • GPA
    • Essay
    • Demonstrated Interest
    • Recommendations
    • Class Rank
    • Extracurriculars
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