While frustrated high school students and their nervous parents often find themselves in a state of confusion, as the college application process wends its way down that circuitous and sometimes precarious road toward the admissions office, our friends at the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) have compiled a comprehensive report on the State of College Admission.

For those still trying to figure out why colleges on the Common App can't agree on seemingly simple matters, like whether you have to pay before you submit, or submit your supplement before submitting the primary application (or some convoluted permutation of the foregoing, reading the NACAC report, while not altogether enlightening (don't expect too many "aha!" moments), may prove a worthwhile respite.

Among the highlights referenced in the report:

• Number of High School Graduates Has Peaked after Decade of Growth
• College Enrollment Continues at All-Time High
• Racial/Ethnic Minorities and Low-Income Students are Underrepresented
• Application Growth Slows
• Colleges Accept 67 Percent of Applicants
• Students Admitted Through Early Decision and Early Action Increases
• At Colleges with Early Decision Policies, Gap In Acceptance
• Chances of Acceptance from a Wait List Slightly Higher
• More than Half of Colleges Create Priority Groups for Wait List
• Cost to Recruit: On average, colleges and universities spent about $524 to recruit each applicant for Fall 2009 admission, $843 to recruit each admitted student and $2,553 to recruit each enrolled student (when admission staff salaries and benefits were included in the admission office budget).

Yes, all those glossy, colorful mailings you receive from colleges and universities far and wide cost plenty. Don't worry. They will find a way to pass expenses for printing and postage on to you!

All in all, no great revelations, but interesting reading, nice charts and graphs, and, presumably, job security for the folks who study these things and prepare such reports.

Of particular interest to The College Whisperer is the chart (Table 17: Percentage of colleges attributing considerable importance to factors in the admission decision: 1993 to 2009) as appears on page 23 of the report. Note the shifting "significance" of factors considered in the admission process, such as the essay versus class rank. Class rank, on the importance scale (whatever the heck that may be at any given college), fell from 42% in 1993 to 16% in 2009, while the essay (your voice in the admission officer's ear) rose, during the same time, from 14% to 26%. Why, the essay even trumps AP and SAT II scores. No surprise to us.

Yes. Lies. Damned lies. And statistics. Still, when the essay ranks up there with other determining factors, surpassing, by far, such admission mainstays as counselor/teacher recommendations and extracurricular activities (which colleges ought to pay closer attention to), it's time to sharpen those pencils, number 2 and otherwise.

Sooooo, take a gander at the full report on the State of College Admission. It's not the Knapp Commission Report, by any means, and it will unlikely cause any ripples in the college admission waters. It will, however, give you some insight into how the process works (or is intended to) and, hopefully, the impetus to better prepare yourself for what has become, to many, the ordeal of applying to college.

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The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer, the authors of referenced articles and websites, and such guest bloggers as may appear.
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