5 Shocking Facts You Don't Know About College Admissions

A recent New York Times feature about the admissions industry has been making the rounds. I read it so you don’t have to. Here's what you need to know: 

1) Most Schools Accept Over 50% Of Applicants
As everyone is collectively freaking out about getting into top tier schools, it’s important to remember that only 13 percent of four-year colleges accept fewer than half of their applicants.

2) Some Colleges Do Factor Your Ability to Pay Into Their Decisions
About half of institutions said an applicant’s “ability to pay” was of at least “some importance” in admissions decisions, according to a recent report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

3) Your State and Major Might Be More Important Than Your Grades
“Geographic diversity” is real—and really important. According to the article, some presidents have been known to express their disappointment if the freshman class doesn’t represent all 50 states. And there are campus minimums for things like engineering majors or goalies, so it's important to think through before applying as Undecided.

4) Your Parents’ Alma Mater Still Matters
Legacies are children of parents who went to the college and are admitted at a higher rate (to increase the probability of potential donors). Almost 30% of Harvard’s current freshman class are legacies, according to The Harvard Crimson. Princeton’s class of 2021 is 13% legacy, according to the university’s website. Nearly a fifth of freshmen at Georgia Tech are legacies. 

5) Colleges Are Tracking How Much You Stalk Them
About 20% of colleges consider “demonstrated interest,” aka how much applicants convey their desire to enroll if accepted, according to a survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Like the Times notes, technology has made it easier to track the number of times an applicant engages with a college (by visiting the campus, contacting an admissions officer, responding to an email). This valuable information helps officers gauge who’s most likely to enroll, which can influence who gets admitted in the first place. Why? The more students who actually enroll, the better the college looks.