Every year we hear about “record-low college acceptance rates” for a number of already highly-selective colleges and universities. With more students applying to more colleges, it’s no surprise that many schools across the US are seeing their admission rates drop; however, that’s not always the case for every institution. When building your balanced college list, it’s important to understand how your profile stacks up against the most recently admitted class and the overall college acceptance rates for each school to which you plan to apply. There are a number of places to find this information, but it’s not always easy to find, so we’ll break it down for you:
Why are College Acceptance Rates Important?
College acceptance rates help you effectively research schools, decide where to apply, and categorize institutions as “reach,” “target,” or “likely” schools to create your balanced college list. While many colleges and universities make their college acceptance rates and admitted class profiles readily available on their websites, sometimes that information isn’t so easy to find for other schools. There are a few different places you can look if you’re having a hard time finding the most-recently available info on acceptance rates, class profiles, and more.
How to Find Acceptance Rates on a College’s Website
The most obvious place to look for this information is the website of the college itself. Many schools have pages within their admissions site with information on application numbers, admission rates, median GPAs, and test scores from the most-recently admitted class, and more. This can be as simple as searching “SCHOOL NAME + admitted student profile” or “SCHOOL NAME admission rate” on Google. Make sure if you do this, however, you look for information published directly from the school’s website. Results from other websites will often pop up with outdated statistics and information from several years ago.
One of the easiest ways to find admissions data is to look at a college’s most recent class profile. Typically, these pages are easily found on the admissions pages of the school’s website, like Harvard, for instance. If the class profile hasn’t been published yet – or if it doesn’t include acceptance rates – do some digging around to find the most recent data.
For example, when decisions are released in the spring, many universities will post a press release about their admissions data, or the school’s student-run paper will run a story about it with data directly from the admissions office. So, while the data on the website might not be updated yet, you can sometimes find the mot recent information in a press release or news article.
How to Find Acceptance Rate in a Common Data Set
Another place to look for application numbers, college acceptance rates, data on admitted students, and more, is the school’s Common Data Set (CDS). Many colleges participate in the Common Data Set Initiative, where schools volunteer to publish this information in order to facilitate transparency and accuracy among higher education data providers. Many schools post their CDS not under the admissions portion of the website, but rather under institutional research or equivalent. The easiest way to find the CDS for the school you’re interested in is to search “SCHOOL NAME + Common Data Set” on Google.
How to Read a Common Data Set (CDS)
While Common Data Sets usually have every admissions statistic you’re looking for, the CDS isn’t always easy to read or understand. To find the college acceptance rate on the CDS, go to section C1. Divide “Total first-time, first-year (degree-seeking) who were admitted” by “Total first-time, first-year (degree-seeking) who applied,” and you get the acceptance rate for the respective class year. A college’s CDS can also help you determine whether a school will be a good fit for you by looking at what each college values most when reading applications as well as the grades, GPAs, and test scores of admitted applicants.
You can easily find how the college considers various factors on your application by going to section C7. There, you will often find a table breaking down each academic and non-academic factor and their relative importance to the college. As for how you measure up to other applicants, check out section C9, where you will find the percentage of students submitting test scores, the SAT and ACT score ranges of admitted applicants, and information about the high school GPA and class ranks of those students.
Remember, not every school publishes a CDS. Others will publish a CDS, but might not fill out all the information. It’s crucial to work closely with your college counselor to make sure you have all the necessary information to build a balanced college list and to categorize each school appropriately.
How to Use College Navigator
Don’t want to go digging through university websites or long reports for data? College Navigator is a great place to go for a quick overview on college acceptance rates, financial aid, cost, applicant test scores, and more. It’s important to note, however, the admissions data provided might not be the most recently available. It’s usually no more than two years old, but with acceptance rates lowering so drastically in recent years, it may not be the best snapshot of recent admission rates. However, it’s still a great resource to look at financial aid, cost, and other logistics that don’t fluctuate as much as admissions rates.
IvyWise Acceptance Rates Resources
Data like college acceptance rates is important when planning for college, as it helps students build their balanced college lists and develop realistic expectations for their college goals. There are a number of IvyWise resources that students can use in order to learn more about college acceptance rates and more to help them find their best-fit colleges.
- Admission Statistics – This page is regularly updated with college acceptance rates, including college admission rates over time, so that families can see how the admissions process changes statistically from year to year. We will add data from the 2022-23 admissions cycle as soon as it becomes available.
- IvyWise Knowledgebase – In addition to college acceptance rates, the IvyWise Knowledgebase offers a number of resources to aid families in the college prep and admissions process.
- Newsletter – Each newsletter includes four new informative articles with college admissions tips and advice for students and parents.
- TikTok – Yes, we are on TikTok! Not only do we post application tips and admissions data, but we regularly feature our expert counselors giving tips to apply to the schools for which they used to recruit. After all, a former admissions officer from Columbia University knows exactly what Columbia is looking for in their applicants.
- Free Downloads – Not sure what college prep you should be doing in freshman year? Applying to US universities as an international student? These comprehensive guides explain everything you need to know about the holistic review process, the current admissions landscape, and what you need to be doing now for college prep.
- Helpful Links – This list of links to outside resources can aid families planning for college.
Information is key when applying to college! At IvyWise, we collect the most recent data and information on colleges and universities in an effort to demystify the college admissions process for families across the globe. If you’d like to receive the latest college admissions news, information, and advice from our team of expert counselors, join our mailing list!