The Rise In College Applications: 6 Big Questions That Need Asking

Could the Common Application Process be related to the growth in applications at some colleges and universities?  A study by The Choice blog at shows suggests this might be the case.

The authors of the article noted there could be many reasons why applications have risen at some schools and fallen at others.  Students do not seem to be making the decisions based on economics, however, since applications to schools such as Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, and other expensive – yet prestigious – schools also saw a healthy jump in applications.

Then they made the following comment:

One trend, though, does seem some obvious: the increase in applications reported by Columbia University (32 percent) and the University of Michigan (18 percent, as the Feb. 1 application deadline looms) would seem, at least in part, to be a function of those institutions’ choosing to accept the Common Application this year for the first time.

That gave me food for thought and I decided to do my own investigating.  Now, I’m no statistician and usually follow the Twain philosophy on statistics.  However, I’m going to post my own crude infographic and let you be the judge.

Funky Infographic

It would appear that those who are allowing students to submit the common application are seeing an increase in applications.  In fact, those who saw Better-Than-Expected growth and “Holy Cow” growth were all members of the common application group. What gives me pause is that the Negative Growth group is a 50-50 split between members and non-members.  At least we can surmise that there is not a consistent cause-and-effect relationship, but rather a very strong correlation.   Otherwise, how could we explain why members of the Negative Growth group saw their application numbers tumble from 2010?

Qualitative research would answer some of these questions.  If I had the time and the resources, I could interview students, parents, and teachers across the country and ask them why they chose to apply to certain schools over others.  I don’t, of course, so I will leave you with some of the questions I would ask, if I could.  I invite you to provide your insights into the application process as well.

Questions I Would Ask

  • Since I know of one teacher who uses the Common Application as a project in her classroom to help her students apply to colleges, I would ask students if their teacher had done something similar.
  • What colleges or universities would you not have applied to if you did not have the convenience of the common application site?
  • Why did you choose to apply to certain colleges and universities?
  • What economic considerations did you have when you were searching for schools?
  • Were there certain colleges and universities that seemed popular with your class?
  • Were there certain colleges and universities that visited the school often?

I’m sure that more will come to me the minute this is posted to the site.  For now, I think that is enough from me.  What do you think?

1 Comment

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    February 2, 2012 at 4:52 am

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