College Admissions

April 11, 1980

Report Outline
Current Enrollment Trends
Changing Admissions Criteria
Future Enrollment Patterns
Special Focus

Current Enrollment Trends

Hard-Pressed Colleges Grow Less Selective

Every year about this time, millions of high school seniors exhibit similar symptoms — bouts of anxiety, irritability and a tendency to wait by the mail box. The object of all these concerns is the letter telling them whether they will be admitted or rejected by the college of their choice. For the most part, the letters arrive by mid-April. The vast majority of college candidates probably have less to worry about than they realize. The number of students in the traditional undergraduate age bracket has declined in recent years and some schools already have fewer applicants than they need to fill their classrooms. As a result, many colleges are aggressively recruiting new students.

Nearly four out of five freshman applicants at public and private four-year colleges now are being accepted, according to a survey published last fall by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) and the College Board, a non-profit education association. Private four-year schools, which usually are thought of as having the toughest entrance requirements, accept more than 77 percent of those who apply. The comparable figures for public two-year colleges and private two-year colleges are 91 percent and 86 percent respectively.

“The public perception that most colleges accept only a small percentage of persons who apply is simply not true,” said James E. Nelson, the College Board's vice president for program research and planning. “The problem may be that the public mostly hears about only a few select, prestigious colleges. In fact, the vast majority of colleges … are not that hard to get into.”

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