According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 32% of American adults have a bachelor’s degree, the largest percentage on record. Currently, more than 19 million Americans are enrolled in an undergraduate college program — and next year, millions more will join the ranks.
There are thousands of four-year institutions across the country, and attracting prospective students can be a challenge. Sill, some schools have managed to distinguish themselves and are becoming increasingly popular among the college-bound.
How people choose which colleges and universities to apply to varies. For many, attending the most prestigious and academically rigorous school is the most important — if not the only — consideration. For others, the decision hinges on the cost of tuition and the value of financial aid packages and scholarships. Distance from home and campus amenities are yet more variables that can make a difference.
Keeping these factors in mind, experts recommend that prospective college students apply to four to eight different schools. These should be a mix of reach schools, where, based on academic credentials, admission would be a long shot; target schools, where admission is more likely; and safety schools, where admission is all but guaranteed.
While colleges and universities all have a certain enrollment capacity threshold, there is no limit to the number of applications they can consider. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year changes in the number of applications submitted to nearly 600 four-year post-secondary institutions to identify the 100 colleges where applications climbed the most.
This list includes schools from all over the country; both public and private, large and small, urban and rural, non-profit and for profit, highly selective and less so. Spikes in the total number of applicants range from 46.7% to 377.8%.