College admissions

College admissions or university admission is the process through which students enter post-secondary education at universities and colleges. Getting accepted to the college of your dream is highly competitive. So, why leave it up to chance, simply complete an application now so more that 3,000 of them can pre-screen your application.

You may even register and being your application as early as 9th grade and allow them to monitor your progress throught out high school. This way, by the time you graduate high school, you will know which one will accept you.


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In many countries, prospective university students apply for admission during their last year of high school or community college. In some countries, there are independent organizations or government agencies to centralize the administration of standardized admission exams and the processing of applications.

Australia

New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory

Northern Territory

Queensland

South Australia

Tasmania

Victoria

Western Australia

Austria, Switzerland, Belgium

Brazil

Canada

China

Finland

Germany

Hong Kong

India

Israel

Japan

Malta

Netherlands

Pakistan

Portugal

Turkey

United Kingdom

The application process

Factors affecting admission

United States

Factors in admissions

Financial need

Yield protection

Australia

As Australia uses a Federal system of government, responsibility for education, and admission to Technical and Further Education colleges and undergraduate degrees at universities for domestic students, are in the domain of state and territory government (see Education in Australia). All states except Tasmania have centralized processing units for admission to undergraduate degrees for citizens of Australia and New Zealand, and for Australian permanent residents; however applications for international and postgraduate students are usually accepted by individual universities. The Australian government operates the Higher Education Contribution Scheme for undergraduate students, so admission is rarely limited by prospective students' ability to pay up-front. All states use a system that awards the recipient with an Equivalent National Tertiary Entrance Rank, or ENTER, and the award of an International Baccalaureate meets the minimum requirements for admission in every state. The Special Tertiary Admissions Test is the standard test for non-school-leavers nationwide.

In all cases, applicants must be proficient in the English language to be considered and meet the course requirements listed by the admitting institution.

New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory

The Universities Admission Centre accepts applications for all NSW and ACT tertiary institutions. Applications usually comprise of standardized test results, adherence to the university's selection criteria for the applicable course, and a suitable application. The standard test for school-leavers is the Higher School Certificate in NSW, and the Year 12 Certificate in the ACT, resulting in a University Admission Index score out of 100.

Northern Territory

The South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre accepts applications for Northern Territory tertiary institutions. Year 12 students are awarded the Northern Territory Certificate of Education and must meet course requirements.

Queensland

The Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre accepts applications for Queensland tertiary institutions. Year 12 students are awarded an Overall Position, based on their performance in class subjects and their schools average result in the Queensland Core Skills Test, as well as meeting course requirements.

South Australia

The South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre accepts applications for South Australian tertiary institutions. Year 12 students are awarded the South Australian Certificate of Education, and must meet course requirements.

Tasmania

Tasmanian school leavers applying for entrance at the University of Tasmania need to apply directly to the university. Tasmanian school students receive a Tertiary Entrance Rank on successful completion of the Tasmanian Certificate of Education. Students from interstate wishing to study at UTas may apply through either the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre, or directly through the University.

Victoria

The Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre accepts applications for Victorian tertiary institutions. Applications comprise of standardized test results and meeting institutional requirements. The standard certification for school-leavers is the Victorian Certificate of Education.

Western Australia

The Tertiary Institutions Service Centre accepts applications for Western Australian tertiary institutions. The standardized test for school-leavers is the Tertiary Entrance Examination.

Austria, Switzerland, Belgium

These countries probably have the most liberal system of university admission anywhere in the world, since anyone who has passed the Matura may enroll in any subject field (or even several at no additional cost) at a public university. In Belgium as well, the only prerequisite for enrolling in university studies is to have obtained a high-school diploma. In both Switzerland and Belgium, medical studies are an exception, which have a numerus clausus system due to overcrowding. This liberal admission practice led to overcrowding and high dropout rates in the more popular fields of study like psychology and journalism, as well as high failure rates on exams which are unofficially used to filter out the less-capable students. Following a ruling by the European Court of Justice issued on July 7, 2005, which forces Austria to accept nationals of other EU Member States under the same conditions as students who took their Matura in Austria, a law was passed on June 8 allowing universities to impose measures to select students in those fields which are subject to numerus clausus in Germany. Starting in 2006, the three medical universities (in Vienna, Innsbruck and Graz) did introduce entrance exams. There are no intentions to introduce a numerus clausus in any subject field.

Brazil

Admission to Brazilian universities requires a secondary school diploma (Diploma de Ensino Médio) or equivalent, and a satisfactory performance in a competitive entrance exam known as Concurso Vestibular. Most top state-funded universities have a limited number of places for first-year students, which are filled for each individual major by ranking the respective candidates' scores on the Vestibular in descending order. Contrary to other countries, extracurricular activities, secondary school grades and interviews play no role in admissions, which are based solely on Vestibular scores. Each university is free to determine the format and syllabus of its own Vestibular exam, but the exam consists generally of two parts: a preliminary Part I with multiple-choice questions on the core secondary school subjects (Portuguese Language and Literature, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, and Geography) and a more specific Part II consisting normally of three or four write-in exams. A Portuguese Language/Literature exam including a student-written essay is required of all candidates at Part II, irrespective of their intended majors. In addition, candidates also take two or three exams in subjects that vary according to their intended course of study. For example, for prospective engineering students, Part II normally includes Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry exams, whereas a prospective Law student would have to take History and Geography, and Medical School-bound students take Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. Critical reading ability in a foreign language (usually English) is also tested, normally at Part I of the Vestibular, but it represents a very small percentage (usually less than 10%) of the overall exam. Candidates must generally achieve a minimum cutoff score in Part I (known as nota de corte) in order to be eligible to take Part II exams. The cutoff score varies for different majors as it depends on the number of first-year places available for each field of study. Finally, admission to certain majors like Architecture, Drama, Fine Arts, and Music also normally requires additional specific skills tests and auditions.

Canada

Post-Secondary Application Service of British Columbia (British Columbia), Ontario Universities' Application Centre (Ontario)

China

A standard national exam given each summer is required for each student. The exam covers common school topics such as math, language, history, science, etc. Better institutions require higher scores for admittance. The required score also varies by province (students in more competitive provinces, like Jiangsu, need higher scores than students from less competitive areas such as Tibet).

Finland

Numerus clausus in Finland

Germany

Prospective students who have passed the Abitur may decide freely what subjects to enroll in. However, in some popular subject fields such as medicine or business administration, students have to pass a certain numerus clausus — that is, they cannot enroll unless they have scored a minimum grade point average on their Abitur.

One should distinguish two types of higher education institutions in Germany, the universities (including Technische Hochschulen) and the Fachhochschulen (polytechnics). A prospective students who has passed the Abitur is qualified for admission to every German university, with the exception of very few new degree programs, where additional entrance examinations were recently introduced. A Fachhochschule, in contrast, requires from the student the completing of an internship to qualify for admission.

There is also a second German school leaving exam, which qualifies the prospective students for admission to higher education in Germany, the Fachhochschulreife, often called Fachabitur in colloquial usage. An internship is already part of the Fachhochschulreife itself, therefore a Fachhochschule requires no additional internship from the student. However, most universities do not accepting this qualification for admission. An exception are universities in the German state of Hesse, who accepting this qualification since 2004 for admission to Bachelor's degree courses, but not to the traditional German Diplom degree courses.

Hong Kong

Joint University Programmes Admissions System, using HKALE (developed and administrated by Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority).

India

Most Indian universities participate in one or another centralized admission procedure. National tests and interviews are organized by an independent body composed of members of the participating organizations. Little weight is given to applicants’ past academic record and more to their exam results. Applicants are ranked by exam grades, and submit their preference of universities/programs based on their rank and choice. Some such common entrance tests are:

Joint Entrance Exam (JEE), the undergraduate exam for the seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs); Graduate Admission Test of Engineering (GATE), the graduate exam for the IITs; All India Engineering Entrance Exam (AIEEE); Common Admission Test (CAT), for the Indian Institutes of Management

States have their own admissions exams and policies. For example, the state of Maharashtra uses the HSC test as a prerequisite for entering Degree level college and uses the SSC test as a prerequisite for entering Junior Level college as well as Diploma Level College.

Israel

National Center for Examinations and Evaluation

Japan

National Center for University Entrance Examinations

Malta

Entrance is done after performing well in examinations which are a local version equivalent to the General Certificate of Education.

Netherlands

Prospective students have to choose, two years before graduation, for a graduation type (e.g. natural science graduation type). Subjects at Dutch universities freely accept all students who have chosen the correct graduation type (e.g. to enroll in physics, the graduation type 'natural sciences' is required). All other students have to pass an exam to be enroll (this is the exception). Popular subjects, such as medicine or dental medicine have a numerus fixus, meaning that a limited number of students may enroll for this subject at a particular university. To decide who is allowed, a lottery is held in which ones grades influence chances of being chosen (an indirect and incomplete numerus clausus).

Pakistan

For undergraduate admissions the national universities have common entrance tests which are SAT based and are held according to provincial zones, the private universities hold their own entrance test which are also SAT based.

For postgraduate admissions some of the universities hold tests which are followed by interviews and others take interviews only.

Portugal

Admission to higher education level studies requires the secondary school credential, Diploma de Ensino Secundário, which is achieved after completing the first twelve study years. Students must have studied the subjects for which they are entering to be prepared for the entrance exams, but they are not required to have previously specialised in any specific area at the secondary school. Students sit for one or more entrance exams, Concurso nacional for public institutions or Concurso local for private institutions. In addition to passing entrance exams, students must fulfil particular prerequisites for the chosen course. Enrollment is limited; each year the institution establishes the number of places available. For the public institutions the exam scores count for the final evaluation, which includes the secondary school average marks. Then the students have to choose six institutions/courses they prefer to attend, in preferential order. The ones, who reach the marks needed to attend the desired institution/course, given the attributed vacant, will be admitted. Some public university courses demands generally higher admission marks than most similar courses at some polytechnical institutes or private institutions. (see also Education in Portugal)

Turkey

Education in Turkey

The Student Selection and Placement Center ÖSYM is the responsible body for organizing ÖSS, the national level university admission examination.

United Kingdom

The application process

The United Kingdom has a centralised system of admissions to higher education, UCAS. In general, students are not admitted to universities and colleges as a whole, but to particular courses of study.

During the first few months (September to December) of the final year of school or sixth form college (age 17/18) or after having left school, applicants register on the UCAS website and select six courses at higher education institutes (fewer choices are permitted for the more competitive subjects such as medicine and veterinary medicine). If the applicant is still at school, his or her teachers will give him or her predicted grades for their A level, Highers or IB subjects, which are then used for the application. If the applicant has already left school, he or she applies with results already obtained. The applicant must also write a personal statement describing why they want to study that particular subject and why they would be an excellent student. This statement can often be decisive in applications for competitive courses, as many students are likely to apply with similar predicted and actual grades. Some universities, especially the most prestigious ones, including Oxford and Cambridge, may ask candidates to attend an interview before deciding whether to make an offer.

For each course applied for, the applicant receives a response from the institution: rejection, conditional offer or unconditional offer. If a conditional offer is received, the student can only take up the place on the course if they later fulfil certain conditions: normally the achievement of certain grades in their A levels, Highers or IB. The minimum requirement for admission to higher education in the UK is two Es at A level or equivalent. If no offers are received following the initial application, or the applicant does not wish to take up any of his or her offers, UCAS+ can be used. Applicants can then apply to one course at a time in order to try to find a suitable offer.

Following the receipt of offers, whether after the initial application, or through UCAS+, the applicant chooses two courses for which offers have been made: a first choice and a second choice. If the conditions of the first choice offer are later met, the applicant may attend this course. If the applicant does not fulfil the conditions of their first choice, but does fulfil the conditions of their second "insurance" choice, they can attend their second choice course. If they fail to meet the conditions of both offers, they may choose to go through "clearing". This involves ringing up or sending their application to different universities in the hope of finding a place on another course. Many students do successfully find places through this route.

Factors affecting admission

Whether to admit an applicant to a course is entirely the decision of each individual university. They will base their decision on a variety of factors, but primarily the grades predicted or already received in school leaver examinations. As more and more applicants are attaining higher and higher grades in the A level examinations, most universities also use secondary admissions criteria. These may include results at GCSE or Standard grade examinations (or equivalent), the references provided on the application and the information provided on the personal statement. The personal statement can often be the deciding factor between two similar candidates so a small industry has sprung up offering personally written personal statements for a fee. The personal statements generally describe why the applicant wants to study the subject they have applied for, what makes them suitable to study that subject, what makes them suitable to study at degree level generally, any relevant work experience they have gained, their extra-curricular activities and any other relevant factors. This is the only way admissions tutors can normally get an impression of what a candidate is really like and assess the applicant's commitment to the subject.

In addition to the information provided on the UCAS form, some universities ask candidates to attend an interview. Oxford and Cambridge almost always interview applicants, unless, based on the UCAS form, they do not believe the applicant has any chance of admission. Other universities may choose to interview, though only in some subjects and on a much smaller scale. The interview gives the admissions tutors another chance to assess the candidate's suitability for the course.

Universities are increasingly being put under pressure from central Government to admit people from a wider range of social backgrounds. Social background can only be assessed by the type of school attended, as no information about income or background is otherwise required on the UCAS form.

Another important determinant of whether an offer is to be made is the amount of competition for admission to that course. The more competitive the course, the less likely an offer will be made and, therefore, the stronger the application must be. Applications for medicine are often expected to have undertaken extensive work experience in a relevant field in order to show their commitment to the course. For the most competitive courses, less than 10% of applications may result in admission, whereas at the less competitive universities, practically all applicants may receive an offer of admission.

Ulitmately, however, no matter how many extra curricular activities and work experience have been undertaken, if the admissions tutor does not believe, based on the submitted exam results, the candidate is academically capable of completing the course, he or she will not be admitted.

United States

College admissions in the United States

Students apply to one or more colleges or universities by submitting an application which each college evaluates by its own criteria. The college then decides whether to extend an offer of admission (and possibly financial aid) to the student. In general, students are admitted to the college as a whole, and not to a particular academic major, which is chosen later. The system is decentralized: each college has its own criteria for admission, even when using a common application form.

Admissions criteria may be completely mechanical, especially at large public colleges: a threshold for grade point average and/or standardized test scores, or even simply a high-school diploma ('open admissions'). They may be completely subjective at some small colleges: a perceived motivational and intellectual 'fit' based on essays, interviews, and personal recommendations. Most colleges combine the two.

The application form typically asks applicants to provide details about their academic preparation, their extracurricular activities, and special talents. Additionally, the majority of schools require applicants to write one or more essays related to their personal backgrounds, obtain recommendations from one or more teachers and a representative of their school such as a guidance counselor or principal. The Common Application is a standardized admissions application used by 299 colleges and universities, including many of the most elite schools in the U.S. It can be submitted online and is a good way for students to minimize the paperwork associated with applying to colleges, and the only limit to the number of colleges that can be applied to by a single click of the mouse is set by the application fees that a student is willing to pay. These fees generally range from US $30-$70 per college applied to. Several high-end colleges, however, do not accept the Common Application; The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of these. Their philosophy is one of playing hard-to-get; the harder it is for a student to apply to a college, the more they will want to go once they are done.

The prestige, ranking, and presumably the quality of a college is roughly in inverse proportion to its acceptance rate; 10-30% of applicants at elite institutions are accepted, so admission is very competitive. Many students base the value of their entire high school education on entry into the college of their choice. Many magazine college rankings put a high emphasis on the acceptance rate, and thus an unfortunate trend in reduced acceptance rates purely for higher rankings may explain why it has and will continue to become harder to enter high-end colleges. Luckily, however, a good student has a massive range of colleges to choose from that will all serve their desire for a prestigious education. Because there are so many choices and each college has different criteria for determining a strong applicant, then applicants with sufficient quantitative qualifications are bound to strike a chord with the subjective evaluations of one high-end college. Hopefully, that college knows that the student is right for them because the college is right for the student.

Factors in admissions

College admissions in the United States are not centralized in any way — each among its thousands of undergraduate colleges develops its own system in house. Among the most important factors in college admissions are high school grades, difficulty of a student's high school course selection, and scores on the SAT or ACT, the nation's two most prevalent undergraduate admissions exams. The reputation of the high school can sometimes be important — admission to an Ivy is widely taken as an entitlement at the nation's top prep schools, even by mediocre students, though uncommon (and unattainable for all but the top 5-10% or so of students) at even the best public schools. Teacher recommendations are often considered, especially if other recommendations from that teacher are on file for comparison.

An underrated factor in attaining admission to elite colleges is the necessity that a student indicate interest in the college or university. However, many well-known universities disregard a student's interest when evaluating. Yield — the percentage of accepted students who attend that college — is taken by college deans and admissions officers to be the "bottom line" of an institution's prestige as well as an indicator of the direction of the school's reputation, valued even more than U.S. News-style rankings because it is objective. (Moreover, from a practical standpoint, a high yield rate reduces the statistical uncertainty in the composition of the incoming class.) To gain admission to an elite institution, an applicant must indicate steadfast intention on attending if accepted; this includes (if not requires) gestures such as attending a tour, requesting materials from the college, and interviewing with an alumnus/alumna of the college. At the most prestigious universities, however, such indication isn't always necessary. For example, Yale College notes on its admissions page that contacting the admissions office with questions, attending tours, and so on is not necessary for admission and, in fact, will not give preference to those who have. These top universities have so many applicants from so many regions of the world and of so many economic backgrounds that they cannot expect every applicant to tour the campus. At smaller, less competitive colleges, 'fit' (usually derived through demonstrated interest) becomes more important.

Of equal importance are extracurricular activities — clubs, service activities, and athletic or musical talents — though it is common for Americans to overestimate their importance in admissions. While it is very damaging to a student's application for him or her to have no extracurricular involvement, college admissions offices generally consider it impossible to measure or compare the quality of students' extracurricular activities. Consequently, most colleges are mostly indifferent to what an applicant has done in their high school career as long it has been fruitful, producing awards, recognition, and the like. While academic achievement is important, ultimately colleges are looking for applicants who will be a positive force in all aspects of college life.

There are some extracurricular activities that colleges tend to like. Professor Minh A. Luong of Yale University contends in his essay "Forensics and College Admissions" that of all extracurricular involvement, forensics activities increase an applicant's chance of admission.

According to the Wall Street Journal (Interactive Edition, April 16, 1999), college admissions directors are relying less on grade point averages and standardized test scores and are relying more on success in academically related extracurricular activities such as speech and debate as well as drama The Wall Street Journal report did specifically highlight a "consistent trend" — one that forensic coaches have known for a long time — that dedicated participation in drama and debate has significantly increased the success rate of college applicants at all schools that track such data. State and national award winners have a 22%–30% higher acceptance rate at top tier colleges and being captain of the debate team "improved an applicant's chances by more than 60% compared with the rest of the pool," according to the report. This is significantly better than other extracurricular activities that tend to recruit from the same pool of students as forensic teams such as school newspaper reporter (+3%), sports team captain (+5%), class president (+5%), and band (+3%). Even without winning major awards, participation in speech and debate develops valuable skills that colleges are seeking out and that is reflected in the above average acceptance rate (+4%). Colleges and universities are looking for articulate thinkers and communicators who will become active citizens and leaders of tomorrow.

Ultimately, different colleges value different qualities at varying levels. To get a rough idea of what certain colleges look for, Princeton Review has a section where they weigh the values most important to each school.

Many top ranked school routinely deny admissions to many students with exceptionally high SAT scores and top high school grades. Instead, they focus first on which students would be capable of academically succeeding at the university and then look for "hooks": additional, usually non-academic, distinguishing characteristics. For example, under-represented minorities and applicants from smaller states are often admitted at higher rates than then equally qualified white or Asian students from northeastern prep schools. Applicants who have won awards or are tangibly considered the "best at something" often are more competitive. Participating in high school clubs is seen as less intensive than such activities as running a charity or winning a national competition.

Many colleges also use affirmative action to increase the racial and geographical diversity of the student body. Whites and Asians, especially from coastal states, are perceived to suffer a disadvantage by this policy, and therefore it is highly controversial. According to the study done at Princeton University in 2005, if racial preferences were eliminated, black and Hispanic acceptance rates would dramatically fall, and four out of five admissions spots that would have been offered to those students would instead be turned over to Asian students. The effect on admission rates for white students would not be pronounced. Study PDF of study.

Children of a college's alumni receive preferential treatment in admissions — this is known as the legacy preference. If the family is a major donor to the college (giving $250,000 or more) the likelihood of a student's admission increases dramatically. Legacy admits are often preferred because the college wishes to maintain strong alumni ties — especially with those who contribute financially to the school.

Financial need

In need-blind admission, applicants are evaluated without regard to their ability to pay. However, need-blind admission does not necessarily mean that the financial need of an admitted student will be met. Only a handful of schools in the U.S. guarantee to meet 100% of the demonstrated financial need of all admitted students. It is therefore important to always ask colleges and universities, even those that are "need-blind" whether they guarantee to meet full need. If a school does not guarantee to meet full need, other important questions to ask include the percentage of students who apply for aid and have their full need met, the amount of an average financial aid package, and how the typical financial aid package is broken down (e.g., loans, grants, work study) Other schools practice what is called "need aware" admissions. In other words, they do consider the ability of students to pay in deciding who to admit.

Less well-endowed universities such as Tufts University and Washington University in St. Louis currently have need-based admissions policies, where some high-achieving applicants may be waitlisted or even rejected because the school cannot provide enough aid for the applicant's education. This is known as "admit-deny." Some of these schools will still meet the full financial needs, however dire, of the not-so-well-off students they accept. At the same time, schools such as Tufts have made need-blind admission their top priority, with the size of their endowment being the largest hurdle to adopting such a policy.

Few schools in the U.S. are need-blind for international applicants. For the most part, these are the most selective schools in the U.S. Additionally, very few U.S. schools offer any form of financial aid for international applicants. Some schools do offer merit scholarships, based on academic achievement, to international students even though they may not offer financial aid. "Full rides" to U.S. colleges and universities are extremely rare for international students. The few colleges that do set aside financial aid for international students often offer it only to the best qualified applicants. Therefore, international undergraduate students who need substantial financial aid to study in the United States must have exceptional grades and test scores to maximize their chances of receiving it.

All students applying for financial aid must complete the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA). Many colleges and universities, particularly those who provide financial assistance beyond federal and state aid from their budgets or endowments, also require additional forms from applicants. International students have additional forms to complete before they can enroll, including a statement of finances required by the U.S. government.

Yield protection

Yield protection refers to the methods colleges and universities use to maximize yield (see above). Often, "yield protection" is taken as a charged term (hence, the euphemism "yield optimization") sometimes referring to the practice of waitlisting (that is, delaying a firm decision on the applicant's admission until further information about the applicant and incoming class emerge) or rejecting "overqualified" students and therefore signifying an institutional inferiority complex. (This is an extreme and rare form of yield optimization.)

College application

Yale Admissions

College Board The organization that administers the SAT and AP exams; much useful information on college admissions plus a searchable database of colleges and universities College Insider Free college planning advice from the New Hampshire Center for College Planning. College Opportunities Online Searchable college database maintained by the U.S. Department of Education Application form to over 3000 colleges and universities in the United States. Free to use, can submit applications online.

We are committed to getting every student accepted. Therefore, student can register at no cost as early as 9th grade and update their application every semester, allowing more than 3,000 undergraduate institutions to monitor their individual progress through high school. Once your application is pre-screened by institutions, we guarantee that they will only contact you through your ATS inbox if you are likely to get accepted. We are the only service that allows students to present themselves to undergraduate institutions because we know that they use more than grades and test scores to make decisions. Best of all, it cost you nothing.

U.S. Department of Education research shows that students who interact with undergrad schools at an early age are more likely to go on to continue their education. This effective outreach mechanism not only gives you the ability to know whether an institution will accept you after graduation, but improves your chances of continuing your education after high school. Plus, you have complete control over your information and can update your application anytime.

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