High School Performance Matters Most in College Admission Decisions

New survey data from NACAC shows that a student’s high school record remains the primary consideration of colleges when reviewing applications.

The finding, included in the association’s recently released 2019 State of College Admission report, has been consistent over the past three decades.

Specifically, the top four factors in freshmen college admission decisions are: (1) grades in all high school courses; (2) grades in college prep courses; (3) strength of a student’s high school curriculum; and (4) admission test scores (ACT/SAT). Meanwhile, only 1 percent of colleges indicated that a student’s alumni connections or ability to pay had considerable influence during the application review process.

NACAC’s State of College Admission — an annual report examining the transition from high school to postsecondary education — features survey data collected from secondary school counselors as well as admission professionals at colleges and universities across the country. Data concerning college wait lists, yield rates, and application plans is updated each year.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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