Student Attributes and College Admissions

What’s Important to College and University Admissions Officers Today?


This brief examines key factors in the college admissions process, including academic performance, curricular strength, and test scores. It also examines the emerging portfolio-based college admissions model.

Key observations from our research

1. Despite popular rhetoric around alternative admissions processes, college admissions officers in the United States remain most interested in applicants’ performance on conventional measures of academic success.

2. A student’s grades, test scores, and curricular strength are the most important factors in the college admissions process.

3. Differences in how schools report class rank information contributed to class rank’s decline in importance in admissions since 2000.

4. The staying power of nascent portfolio-based admissions models remains unclear.

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