The top colleges in the United States are applying to thousands of universities every year, with applications outpacing enrollment at some of the nation’s top institutions, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress.
“There is a great sense of urgency and a great deal of pressure on colleges to get students through these very challenging applications, and the number of applications is increasing by the day,” said Kevin G. Harris, the senior vice president of the Center.
Harris and his co-authors analyzed applications submitted to colleges and universities by colleges, universities, nonprofit organizations, and companies.
They found that nearly 2.4 million applications have been submitted in the last year, which represents more than 10% of the applications that colleges have submitted to the Federal Register.
The report, published in the June issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, shows that colleges and institutions across the country are making significant investments in improving their student applications.
The number of applicants submitted to schools in 2019 was more than double that of the previous year, while applications submitted by universities are up almost 5%.
The numbers underscore the need for colleges and schools to get out and get out of the way of the vast number of people who want to apply for degrees, said Josh Rosen, a research associate at the Center who authored the report.
“We know from other data that there’s an overwhelming number of students who are interested in college, but they don’t have the resources to get to college, and they can’t get there,” Rosen said.
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The number of colleges applying to students rose to more than 6,500 in 2019 from about 5,400 in the previous two years.
About 14% of colleges applied to students last year.
The majority of applications submitted in 2019 were for graduate programs, with about 10% for medical, law, and engineering programs.
The growth of colleges and the increase in applications has made the application process more difficult, said Dan T. Siegel, the chief operating officer of the National Association of College Admission Administrators.
He said colleges are spending a lot of money on the application, and it’s only fair to expect that they will also invest in the student experience.
“This is a very challenging time for colleges,” Siegel said.
“I don’t think anyone expects that colleges are going to suddenly turn around and have the same number of high-quality programs and facilities that they had 10 or 15 years ago.
It’s going to be challenging for some time.”
The report also found that the growth in applications is a function of a number of factors, including the economic downturn that hit college students in the spring of 2019.
That affected students from lower-income families, students who had to take time off, and students who were in a high-poverty school.
“The fact that the economic crisis impacted all students, that it affected students with lower-level degrees, that that impacted the ability to access college in many ways, is a big reason that students are applying now,” Snyder said.
In the meantime, colleges are trying to make college more affordable for all students.
The National Association for College Admission Counseling released a new guide in June that offers tips for students to prepare for a financial aid application and financial aid, and more information is available at nacacampaign.org/applications.