#College Essays and Applications

Applying to college can be full of surprises, including some statistics about the process. Below we share some of the more surprising numbers regarding admission processes from schools around the country. 


The top universities in the United States often steal much of the spotlight in yearly conversations around college admissions. However, there are many, many more colleges out there for students to consider. In Fall 2021, there were 2,637 four-year degree-granting institutions in the US, providing many options for students in their post-secondary endeavors. 


Public institutions often answer to state legislatures and the University of Texas system is no exception. In 1997, the state adopted what’s known as “the Top 10% law”, a law that guarantees admission to in-state public universities if a student graduates within the top 10% of their high school. Some institutions, like the University of Texas at Austin, have stricter thresholds for automatic admission; they require students to place in the top 6% of their high schools. When combined with the state law requiring UT Austin’s population to be 90% Texans, Texas is showing its commitment to giving its students the best shot at admission to the institution. Other public flagship campuses prefer in-state students, too, including the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia.


Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of colleges decided to waive their testing requirements. As of this year, many of those schools have continued their test-optional and test-free policies. A total of 1,835 colleges and universities have suspended their testing requirements for Fall 2023 admission. As institutions’ research and “trial periods” come to a close, some institutions have returned to requiring test scores like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Georgia system have reinstated their testing requirements, citing their ability to help predict student outcomes.


The ratio of women to men attending college is not equal and has not been for some time. As of Fall 2020, 58% of all students in higher education were women. While statistically overrepresented in higher education as a whole, women are still underrepresented in engineering fields and the life sciences.


Transfer students make up a significant portion of new students on campus every year. Over one million students transferred colleges in 2021, or around 4.8% of all students enrolled, showing that transferring is not an uncommon occurrence. 


Top-ranked colleges often find themselves in the national spotlight year after year for their ever-lowering admission rates. While a handful of institutions fall into the “highly selective” category, admitting fewer than 25% of applicants, the average acceptance rate across all four-year institutions is much higher. For the fall 2021 cohort, the average acceptance rate was 60.7%, significantly higher than what is considered “highly selective”. With over 2,600 institutions to choose from, students can select from a variety of institutions to apply to with higher rates of admission.