Current Factors Affecting College Enrollment


National Association for College Admission Counselingpic
National Association for College Admission Counseling

Joel Salmon has performed extensive analyses for prestigious American universities. Concerned with trends in higher education, Joel Salmon focuses his attention on factors that influence enrollment in colleges and universities. Several trends for 2018 have emerged from research by the National Association for College Admission Counseling:

The number of applications in higher education has increased 7 percent over 2017, as schools have increased recruiting via the Internet and social media. Although the high school population is leveling off, each student is on average applying to more institutions.

As the applicant pool expands, the college yield rate is declining. Yield is the percentage of accepted students who actually enter school – that rate has declined from 36.2 percent in 2014 to 35.1percent in 2015. The importance of yield is that it affects spending on priorities such as financial aid.

Many schools boost yield with early admissions. The yield among applicants with binding early admissions is far higher than average, and the chance to secure a spot sooner rather than later motivates many students. Colleges and universities also increase yields by marketing to transfer and international students.

In the application process itself, essays have become a more important admission criterion than before, in addition to high school grades and test scores. Many institutions require applicants to write essays focusing on reasons for choosing their school in particular.

Many colleges are not significantly increasing their class sizes to keep pace with a larger applicant pool. This means that more students will have to accept being wait-listed as part of the application process.