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How Likely Are You to Get In?

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"Will I get into college?" While there is no magic answer to this question, you can get a fairly good idea of your admission chances by doing a little research.

Figuring out which colleges are likely to admit you is not an exact science. But you can find out what a college is looking for and look at the credentials of students who got admitted, and then see how you measure up.

How Likely Am I to Get Into College - In General?

You might be wondering, “Am I going to get into college --- any college?” The answer, most likely, is “yes.” According to the National Association of College Admissions Counseling, the average college acceptance rate among four-year private colleges in the U.S. is close to 64 percent, and for public four-year schools it is a little over 70 percent.

But although your chances of getting into college are pretty good, you should still consider your admissions chances when creating your college list. This is especially important if your dream schools are popular and highly selective colleges -- which turn away hundreds, and even thousands, of highly qualified applicants each year.

Consider Your Chances When Creating a Balanced College List

Your college list should include colleges from each of these categories: "Likely to Get In," (Good Bets), "Good Chance of Getting In," (Maybes) and "Might Get In." (Reaches). There is also the additional category “Takes a Miracle to Get In”—which applies to the most selective colleges and universities such as Stanford and the Ivy League. At a highly selective school there is no guarantee of admission even for students with near-perfect test scores, stellar GPAs, and impressive accomplishments.

How do you estimate your college admission chances?

You can get an idea of how likely you are to be admitted to a college by looking at two specific things:

  1. The credentials of students who were admitted
  2. The types of students the college is looking for

And then seeing how you measure up.

Start with Data About Who Just Got In

Data about the students recently accepted to your favorite colleges is easy to find. Just look up a college using a search tool such as College Search. On the college's College Profile, you'll see the GPAs and SAT and ACT scores of enrolled freshmen.

See How You Compare with Those Students

Comparing your own credentials with those of current freshmen will help you figure out whether you stand a chance of acceptance. The higher you are within the range of accepted students' GPAs and test scores, the higher your chances are of being admitted.

See What the College Values—and How You Stack Up

Almost all colleges consider students’ grades to be the most important factor in admission, particularly in challenging courses. But colleges vary in the weight or importance they give other factors, such as SAT or ACT scores, essays, and extracurricular activities. These factors can also be important to your chances. In CollegeData's College Profiles, you will see a list of the factors a college considers when making admissions decisions, and how much weight it gives each factor.

Talk to Your Counselor

Discuss your college list with your college counselor. He or she has a valuable perspective on your strengths as a student and how those strengths might align with students at the colleges you are considering. Your counselor can also suggest additional colleges you might want to research further.

Doing the research required to estimate your admissions chances at different colleges takes time -- but many students say it's worth it. Having a balanced list of colleges -- any of which you would be happy to attend--increases the odds that you won't be disappointed when your college decisions arrive.

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