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10 Facts About College Admissions That Will Surprise You

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10 Surprising Facts About College

Statistics tell a story. You can use the numbers to get an overall picture of things, evaluate goals, and learn from the trends. College admission statistics are no different. They tell us about college trends, college student behavior, and the future of college graduates.

The following are 10 surprising facts about college. Will you be surprised?

  • 75 percent of high school seniors are accepted to their first-choice colleges, but less than 57 percent can afford to attend. A UCLA study about college students confirmed that although students are often accepted to their first choice colleges, they are unable to attend due to financial constraints. This means it’s critically important to investigate the college’s financial aid awards before you apply. Do they offer merit aid in the form of scholarships and grants? What percentage of accepted students receives college-based financial aid? What is the average financial aid award?
  • 23 percent of full-time undergrads, who are 24 or younger, work 20 hours or more a week. This percentage should be higher. Statistics show that working during college is a good thing; contrary to what most students and parents believe. Working students are forced to organize their time, set aside time to study, and prioritize their lives around their work hours. And an added bonus is scoring some cash for college expenses.
  • The annual family income of more than 47 percent of undergrads is less than $40,000. College, if done right, is affordable. Families have options when it comes to paying for college. Students with lower family incomes look for scholarships, work during summers and while in school, and attend community college at a cheaper per credit cost to get the basic courses out of the way. On top of that, good grades make a huge difference when it comes to colleges awarding merit aid, meaning students with financial need are working harder in high school.
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  • Only 0.4 percent of undergraduates attend one of the Ivy League schools. There are over 6,000 accredited institutions of higher learning in this country. Too much attention is paid to the Ivies. A student can get a quality education in college is they apply themselves, often at a much lower sticker price. And employers often tell students that the college they attend doesn’t matter as much as the degree they receive, the internships they worked at, and the connections they made while in college.
  • 86.9 percent of freshmen expected to complete their degrees in four years or fewer. Completing a degree in four years or fewer translates into major financial savings. Not only due to the college costs you will save, but also the fact that you will enter the job market and begin earning when others who don’t commit to this goal are still in college.
  • Of the 2.4 million college students enrolling per year, only 1.75 million will graduate. When choosing a college, ask about the freshman retention rate. Of students who drop out, most drop out their freshman year of college and don’t return to finish their degrees. Once you know this retention rate, you should ask the college the percentage of graduates as compared to the number of students who initially enrolled. Colleges with high retention rates are colleges that make the education experience not only productive but enjoyable and engaging.
  • The average college student’s debt is $30,000; the average student loan payment is $432 per month. Imagine graduating from college and starting out with thousands in student loan debt. A huge chunk of your salary will go toward making loan payments, especially if you are starting at a lower salary or are unable to find a job using your degree. Think long and hard before you use student loans to pay for your entire college bill.
  • The average college student attends 62 parties a year. For most, especially college students, this statistic is no surprise. Unfortunately, partying contributes to poor grades, poor health, and poor class attendance and participation. There’s nothing wrong with having fun in college; but in order to protect your investment and graduate with a modicum of education, do all things in moderation.
  • In one year, 1.25 million students transferred to another school; 1.125 million dropped out. Finding the perfect fit college is crucial to staying in college and remaining where you begin. Do your research before you apply and ask if the college is a perfect fit financially, academically, and socially. Time spent on research before applying will translate into a happier, more content, college experience.
  • 775,000 male students enroll in college each year; 1,575,000 female students enroll each year. This statistic might be surprising. The number of women enrolling in college is almost double that of men. Does this statistic tell us that women are more serious about pursuing higher education? You decide.

Facts and figure sources: Cooperative Institutional Research Program “The American Freshmen: National Norms 2013” conducted by the UCLA School of Graduate and Information Studies; Chronicle of Higher Education: Almanac of Higher Education; Degree Central.com Infographic: 42 Fun and Interesting Statistics for College Students; The College Board: Trends in College Pricing.

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Written by Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer counsels parents and students in the college admissions process and the importance of early college preparation. Her Parents Countdown to College Coach blog offers timely college tips for parents and students, as well as providing parents with the resources necessary to help their college-bound teens navigate the college maze.

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