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High school grades matter most in college admissions, report reveals

A student’s high school record is the most important factor in college admission decisions, according to survey results released Thursday by the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

Data in the 11th annual edition of NACAC’s “State of College Admission” report show that students’ grades and the academic rigor of their course loads weigh more heavily in decisions to admit than standardized test scores, high school class rank, or demonstrated interest in attending, the association said in a release.

“The results show that getting good grades in challenging courses is what college admissions offices value most,” said Joyce E. Smith, NACAC’s chief executive officer. “This is valuable news for college-bound students and their families.”

The report also suggests that that U.S. post-secondary institutions are less able to predict enrollment trends today than they were 10 years ago, as shown by declining “yield rates” — the number of accepted applicants that ultimately decide to attend a college — as well as the increasing numbers of students placed on wait lists.

The report says that other trends, including a slight decline in the number of applications submitted per student, may indicate that colleges are starting to reach a new equilibrium in the application and admission process.

Among other significant findings in the 2013 “State of College Admission,” the data showed overall higher education enrollment declined for the first time since 1995. Declines in enrollment at for-profit colleges and two-year public colleges drove this trend, while enrollment at public and private, non-profit colleges continued to grow.

Based in Arlington, VA, NACAC is an association of more than 13,000 secondary school counselors, independent counselors, college admission and financial aid officers, enrollment managers, and organizations that work with students as they make the transition from high school to post-secondary education.

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