How Are College Admission Statistics Calculated?
First things first: it’s important to understand what types of data you may encounter and how to use it to guide your search.
- A college’s admit, or acceptance, rate is one of the most looked at college admission statistics.
- An acceptance rate is the number of students accepted to a college divided by the number of total applications. So, if a school admitted 2,500 students and received 6,000 applications, the school has a 41.6% admit rate for that year.
Other statistics are more straightforward, like the range of SAT and ACT scores. For example, schools may give a score range for the middle 50% of students.
You also may look at class profiles. This data, including the percentage of men, women, first-generation students, states and countries represented, and more can reveal the level of diversity at a given institution.
Finally, look for outcomes. Look at data like graduation rates and employment. Many colleges report the percentage of students who end up graduating, calculated by taking the number of graduates in year four divided by how many originally enrolled with the class in year one.
Also, look for the percentage who are employed, pursuing additional education, or participating in service within six months of graduation. Often, this statistic is self-reported, in that it relies on students answering college surveys.
How College Admissions Statistics Can Inform College Rankings
Some of these statistics are used to calculate rankings. For example, U.S. News & World Report uses factors like graduation and retention rates in its rankings. Other factors include graduate indebtedness and undergraduate reputation (based on a peer assessment survey). These factors are all weighted differently.
Other rankings, such as PayScale’s return on investment rankings, take into account statistics such as how much a graduate from a given school can expect to earn over 20 years. (Read more about the methodology for PayScale’s ranking.)
This ranking allows you to understand which schools may be better investments than others. The Babson undergraduate school, for example, has been ranked the #1 private business school for ROI every year from 2014 through 2020.