How Important is Acceptance Rate When Looking at Colleges?

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When most students look at colleges, college acceptance rates are often one of the first things they look at to weigh their chances of success. A college with a very low acceptance rate indicates extremely stiff competition for study places, while a college acceptance rate that is very high may not be as selective as a highly dedicated and accomplished student might prefer.

College acceptance rates can be important dependent on the personal interests and achievements of the individual student, but it is not necessarily the most important thing to consider when searching for a quality institution that offers your field of intended study. Here are three important factors to consider – aside acceptance rate – when choosing schools to apply to.

Program Selection

Most universities and colleges have a diverse array of offerings, and if you have multiple academic interests, this is a must-have. In particular, you should skip out on applying to a college that doesn’t have the program you want – settling for some variant of what you really want to study will ultimately make you unhappy, and in the long run will likely feel like a waste of your money and financial aid if it’s not really what you’re passionate about. Make it a point to ask as many questions about your intended program of study to make sure it’s the fit you want – especially if you intend to minor in one or more fields.

Related: 50 Most Affordable Competitive Colleges and Universities 2017

Population Diversity

Most colleges are like townships unto themselves, with students from all over the country and the world coming together on the same campus to learn, grow, and achieve. Population diversity on campus is an excellent hallmark of a broadminded institution that seeks to educate students from a wealth of different backgrounds. In addition, it allows unique opportunities for students to learn about different cultures, customs, and languages – experience that will be immensely valuable to them once they graduate and leave campus for the working world.

Alumni Success

A big indicator of whether or not you should apply to an institution of higher learning is what their alumni have gone on to achieve. If the school has a high post-scholastic employment rate, it’s worth considering. If it boasts alumni who have gone on to achieve momentous things like working for or starting a Fortune 500, were accepted for graduate or doctoral study at a truly prestigious college or university, or went on to do great work in their community or region, all these are great indicators that that college can help you achieve success well after your classroom days are over.

It’s always a good idea for students to challenge themselves by applying to “reach” schools – schools that have relatively low acceptance rates – in addition to applying to schools where acceptance is more likely. But of the many important factors that go into choosing a college or university, that college’s acceptance rate is only one among many – and is no guarantee that it will be a good fit for you or your goals. Consider it alongside these other factors, but don’t assign it too much weight in your final decision to apply – whatever campus you bring your skills and talent to will benefit from having you among their students, no matter what its acceptance rate happens to be.