If you are wondering what your chances are at getting accepted to a particular college or university here are four things to consider:
- What percent of students do they accept?
- What criteria are important to that college?
- How well do you meet the criteria?
- Will the major you have selected have an impact on whether you will be accepted?
What percent of students do they accept?
The higher the percent of students the college accepts, the better your chance for admission. If the percent acceptance is very small, your chance of admission is very small.
Percent acceptance ranges between 2 or 3 % and 100%. Schools that accept 100% include many 2-year community colleges and some 4-year colleges.
Some schools accept a much different percent of applicants depending on whether the student applies as an early decision, early action or regular decision applicant. Percent acceptance may also vary by gender or ethnicity. In-state and out-of-state acceptance rates vary significantly and many public colleges and universities.
What criteria is important?
Important criteria may be reflected in the school’s mission statement. It also may be reflected in published data (see collegedata.com) which indicates how important (i.e., very important, important, considered, or not considered) each of the following is to the particular college:
- Rigor of secondary school record – Rigor considers the number of years of a particular subject that you have taken. Colleges often specify the number of years required or recommended for a particular subject like English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Foreign Language. Rigor also looks at the level of the course you took (e.g., college prep, honors, AP, IB) as compared to what your high school offered.
- Academic GPA
- Standardized Tests
- Class rank (if available)
- Application essay
- Application interview
- Level of applicant’s interest
- Extracurricular activities
- Volunteer work
- Particular talent/ability
- Character/personal qualities
- First generation to attend college
- State residency
- Geographic residence
- Relation with alumnus
- Religious affiliation/commitment
- Work Experience.
How well do you meet the criteria?
For every criteria that is very important, important or considered by a particular college, consider how you will measure up.
For example, consider how your grades and course rigor and how your SAT/ACT test scores compare to the students the college accepts. If your high school has Naviance or SCOIR, you can use scattergrams to get an idea about how your grades and test scores stack up to others from your high school that applied to a particular college or university.
Will the major you have selected have an impact on whether you will be accepted?
The acceptance rate at some universities may also be dependent to the college which you are applying. For example, the College of Engineering may be more competitive than the College of Arts and Science.
Some majors which are in high demand and/or which there are few professors may be “impacted” majors. They may be more difficult to gain acceptance into than other majors. You may get accepted to the college or university, but not for your first choice major. At some schools, no one is accepted directly for a particular major. Students can only declare that major after meeting certain criteria as a college student (e.g., completing certain college courses with a particular grade).
Be realistic about your chances of admission. Be sure to include colleges with a high and medium probability of acceptance, not just colleges with low probability of acceptance.
If you need or want assistance with the college selection and application process, work with an experienced independent educational consultant like me. I help students select colleges which meet their academic, social and financial needs and I work with them throughout the application process to make sure they put their best foot forward in their applications.