By Caralee Adams | Ed Week
November 19, 2010
A report released today chronicles how more applications than ever are pouring into admissions offices at the nation's colleges. The reasons behind the trend, however, are more complex than just the notion of hyper-competitive students sending out multiple applications.
Overall, there are just more students aspiring to college, and many institutions are fueling the influx with widespread recruiting materials that pump up interest in their schools.
That growing pool of interest is also raising questions and concerns about access to higher education, the National Association for College Admission Counseling writes in "Putting the College Admission 'Arms Race' in Context."
The big findings of the report:
• From 2001 to 2008, average annual increases in the median number of applications at public four-year institutions increased about 6 percent a year, or 47 percent growth overall. The increase was 8 percent a year at private not-for-profit institutions for an overall 70 percent increase over this period.
• The greatest growth in the number of applications has taken place at less
selective for-profit and not-for-profit private four-year colleges and universities, where many students are commuters.
• The proportion of ethnic minorities and lower-income students submitting applications to more than one institution has increased in this decade, suggesting more competition for local commuting students.
• Across all sectors of four-year institutions—public, private for-profit, and
private not-for-profit—acceptance rates declined from 2001 to 2008 by a median of 7 percentage points, or an annual decrease of about 1 percentage point. The most selective schools reported the largest increases in the percentage of students rejected.
The report suggests that the increase in applications at community colleges, for-profit institutions, and less-selective public institutions is the result of more high school graduates pursuing higher education, rather than the result of students submitting multiple applications. Also, there are more first-generation Hispanic high school graduates applying to institutions in these sectors.