Enloe Seniors Respond to a Competitive College Acceptance Year

Between the years 2021 and 2022, the average college acceptance rate dropped by 3.19%, as many universities switched to test-optional policies over the last year. On May 9th, the Eagle’s Eye launched a poll, in which an average sample size of 78 seniors answered questions about their college admissions process.

When describing their top choice school when applying for college, about 52% of the surveyed seniors described it as a “Public University,” with 10% describing it as a “Smaller Private College,” 31% describing it as a “Highly Competitive Private College,” and 7% of respondents describing their top choice as an “Ivy League” school. About 47% of respondents were accepted into their top-choice school and 51% were not.

The main reason that colleges are providing for their falling acceptance rates is a national surge in applications. Some claim that this is due to the fact that applying to colleges was easier for many students this year as a result of many colleges dropping requirements for ACT and SAT scores. In the Triangle alone, NC State University, UNC Chapel Hill, and Duke University all saw an increase of 2,093, 3,423, and 3,002 applicants from their numbers in 2021, respectively. Subsequently, NC State’s acceptance rate dropped from 45.1% for Fall 2021, to 43.8% for Fall 2022, UNC’s dropped from 22.6% to 21.9%, and Duke University’s overall acceptance rate dropped from 9.3% to 8.3%.

In response to how many colleges they applied to, approximately 22% of respondents chose the option of “1-4,” 50% chose “5-10,” 21% chose “11-16,” and about 7% of respondents chose “17+” colleges. 71% of respondents are attending college in-state, while 29% are attending out of state.

Overall, the surveyed seniors feel content with their choices during the application process, with about 57% of respondents answering, “I’m happy with the choices I made in admissions.” The remaining 17% and 25% of respondents chose that they “applied to too many colleges” and “applied to too few colleges,” respectively. 

In an open question to provide tips and advice to students who are about to enter the admissions process, seniors spoke highly of beginning the process early and keeping an open mind throughout admissions: “Start writing your common app during the summer! Try finalizing it before school starts… especially as it’s usually the first English assignment of the year! Also be very organized and hold yourself accountable to deadlines.”

Many seniors highlighted the importance of applying to safety schools: “Don’t be afraid to apply to ‘safety’ schools, scholarships can change [your] mind.” Other seniors advised limiting the number of schools one applies to: “Don’t pay just to see if you’ll get in. You won’t go if you do and you’ll feel bad if you don’t.”

Most of the respondents agreed on the importance of applying to schools that applicants are actually interested in: “Apply to programs that have features you like. Don’t apply to places just because everyone [else is].” Regarding the importance of applying to a school for a specific program, one student responded, “Tour and talk to the people who will be teaching you! It is the professor’s job to effectively teach you, and they are essentially your customer. Remember that you have power.”