The college recruiting process is multifaceted and complex. When you are first engaging with the recruiting process it is important to evaluate your college admission chances within certain categories of colleges, while thinking about which colleges to apply to. Ideally, you will want to apply to colleges that are a ‘Best Fit’ both academically (grades, GPA, SAT/ACT) and athletically (D1, D2, D3, roster needs). Forming an initial list of schools requires a family to look at a number of factors that are important to them including: geographical location, school size, NCAA Division, college acceptance rates and academic reputation. Having a great initial list will help a family moving forward when engaging with the rest of the process from contacting coaches to campus visits and everything in between.
It is helpful when first making a college list to gain an understanding of the acceptance rates of schools. This will prove to be an important factor in narrowing down the types of colleges you should apply to. Ultimately, this will help you form a list of small, but slightly varied colleges including ones that are slightly more a ‘reach’ for you and ones that are more of a certainty, in terms of a successful admission. This will ensure that the outcome of your college recruiting process is positive, independent of your chances of getting into a specific college.
Levels of Selectivity (percentage admitted):
College acceptance rates are measured as the proportion of students accepted out of the total pool of applicants for a given year. A large number of applications with a low number of acceptances makes for a highly selective college. Statistics can usually be found online for the specific schools on your list, on their respective college websites. Below are some rough estimates for the acceptance rates for certain categories of schools.
Most Selective: <25%
- Ivy League schools (Princeton, Harvard, etc), Georgetown, Duke
- The most difficult colleges to get admitted
Very Selective: 25-50%
- Lehigh University, UNC – Chapel Hill, Boston University, University of Maryland
Somewhat Selective: 50-75%
- University of Delaware, Temple University, West Chester University
Less Selective: >75%
- Millersville University, Shippensburg University, St. Joseph’s University
There are a number of reasons for greater or lesser selectivity at certain schools which factor into their college acceptance rates. It is important to understand these factors when going through the college recruiting process.
Reasons for College Application Selectivity
- The school is specialized for instance, geared toward dance, art, design and military schools such as Juilliard, Fashion Institute of Technology and West Point.
- Non-Specialized but selective for the Highest Achieving Students (GPA, SAT, class rank, extracurriculars). For example, Ivy League schools such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton
- State School – some state schools have a quota for a certain amount of in-state vs. out-of-state students they can admit. This makes admittance for out-of-state students more selective and competitive. For example at UNC Chapel Hill only 18% of the undergraduate student body can be made up of out-of-state college students.
- Major – within the college itself some majors are more selective than others and this can make applying for a college more selective based on the major you select. Competitive majors vary school to school but some of the most commonly competitive ones include: Engineering, Business, Pre-Med and Computer Science.
What are my chances of getting into a college:
Many factors play a role in admission including GPA, SAT or ACT score, class schedule (AP, honors), athletics, extracurricular activities, essays, teacher recommendations, interviews, major, legacy, and much more. There is no exact score or GPA that will guarantee admission, but it is important to know where you rank in comparison to other students in order to determine your chances of college admission. These stats can be found on the college’s websites for a prior year’s acceptance criteria.
Statistically: (Averages of Students Admitted)
Example Acceptance Rate GPA (out of 4.0) SAT (0-1600) Most Selective
- Yale University
1490 – 1600
- University of Maryland
1280 – 1500
- University of Delaware
- Shippensburg University
These college acceptance rates vary widely for different schools and for different reasons as previously mentioned. It is important to access your ‘Best Fit’ and form an initial list of schools which will increase your chances of an effective recruiting outcome. For more acceptance rate examples follow this link.
College Acceptance Rates And How They Work For Athletes
We often hear this statement from high school students that do not prioritize academic achievement: “I’m not a great student, but grades and test scores don’t matter as long as I’m a great athlete. The coach will still want me.” Yes, if you are a fantastic athlete the coach will want you, but the university won’t and that’s a major problem. It’s the college that has the final say on whether or not you will be accepted, not the college coach. Depending on the school, division, and sport, a college coach may be able to influence the admissions process in an NCAA-legal way. At certain schools, coaches may be able to get their top recruits admitted regardless of academic standing and college acceptance rates. At other schools, coaches might only be able to get recruits admitted if they are close to meeting the general academic standards. At many schools, however, coaches aren’t able to intervene in the admissions process at all. At the end of the day, counting on a coach to “get you in” will limit your opportunities and leave you unable to be involved in NCAA college sport at the schools of your choice. Thus, it is important to work hard in high school, and then target schools that have acceptance criteria and acceptance rates within your academic range in order to avoid disappointment.
College acceptance rates are important, but are also only one of many criteria you should be using to evaluate your Best Fit colleges. For more information, both academic and athletic, visit the ACA College Recruiting Blog.