It’s college letter acceptance time! With the CIRP 2010 Freshman Survey, we can better understand how students experience the admissions process, including how many college applications they sent, how many got into their first choice school, and why they applied to the schools that they did.

College application numbers continue to rise
  • Thirty-five percent of students entering four-year colleges in the fall of 2010 applied to six or more colleges for admission, up seven percent from 33.% in 2009
  • Less than four percent (3.7%) applied to more than 12 schools
  • The median number of applications per entering student remains at 4, even though the number of applications submitted increases ever year
  • Women applying to college were more likely than men to apply to six or more schools (37% versus 33%)

Financial aid and first-choice colleges
  • The percentage of students accepted into their first-choice college remained relatively stable, at 78.9% this year (it was 79.2% in 2009). The gap between being accepted to your first choice and attending your first choice also remained fairly stable, with 18.5% of students choosing not to attend their first choice
  • Record high percentages of students report that being offered financial aid was very important in their decision of which college to attend, at 45.5%, and 8.9% specifically reported that not being offered aid by their first choice was why they were not attending

There is good news, however, for that 40% who don’t end up going to their first-choice college. Data at the end of the first year, from our Your First College Year Survey, shows that students who did not attend their first choice were just as satisfied with college at the end of the first year than those who were attending their first-choice college. As far as satisfaction with college goes, it is much more important that the student feel a sense of belonging to the school, that they have engaging interactions with the faculty, and that they are able to adjust well to the academic demands of college.