College admissions are down in the U.S. In fact, only 68.4% of high school graduates decided to enroll in colleges or universities in 2014, down from a high of 70.1% in 2009.
But while some schools are struggling to attract applicants, others are winning the admissions race. Using data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Database, StartClass ranked the 25 colleges that saw the largest increase in applications in 2013 (the most recent data).
Interestingly, over two-thirds of the schools on this list are public universities. Does your alma mater make the list?
*Note: schools are listed in ascending order by absolute increase in number of applicants from 2012-2013.
Spring Hill College
Spring Hill College | StartClass
Total Increase: 3,779
Percent Increase: 134.1%
An increase in 3,779 applicants would be large for any school. But for a small private college like Spring Hill, such a rise is staggering. The Alabama Catholic school more than doubled its applicant pool in one year.
California Polytechnic State University—San Luis Obispo
California Polytechnic State—San Luis Obispo | StartClass
Total Increase: 3,938
Percent Increase: 11.9%
Despite seeing an 11.9% increase in its applicant pool, Cal Poly SLO admitted 14.6% fewer students in 2013. Most of these applicants were from California, likely hoping to capitalize on the school’s relatively inexpensive in-state tuition.
Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University | StartClass
Total Increase: 4,122
Percent Increase: 36.5%
For students seeking sunshine, it’s hard to do much better than Grand Canyon University (some might even argue it’s too hot). Already one of the largest schools in Arizona, GCU continues to grow each year, although much of that growth comes from online students.
California State Polytechnic University—Pomona
California State Polytechnic University—Pomona | StartClass
Total Increase: 4,197
Percent Increase: 17.5%
Like San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly Pomona decreased its 2013 enrollment despite seeing a 17.5% increase in applicants. Remarkably, 98% of the student body is from in-state.
University of Michigan—Ann Arbor
University of Michigan—Ann Arbor | StartClass
Total Increase: 4,269
Percent Increase: 10.0%
Although an increase in over 4,000 applicants is nothing to scoff at, it’s only a 10% year-to-year increase for Michigan. That’s because the school is one of the largest public universities in the country, with nearly 44,000 students.
The University of Alabama
The University of Alabama | StartClass
Total Increase: 4,566
Percent Increase: 17.3%
Located in Tuscaloosa, Bama has bolstered its admissions numbers in recent years. Additionally, the acceptance rate has plummeted from a high of 86.7% in 2002 to 56.5% in 2013.
University of Kentucky
University of Kentucky | StartClass
Total Increase: 4,657
Percent Increase: 30.7%
The University of Kentucky saw an impressive 30% increase in applicants in 2013. The school used its rising popularity to boost its enrollment, admitting 13.6% more students in 2013 than in 2012.
University of Minnesota—Twin Cities
University of Minnesota—Twin Cities | StartClass
Total Increase: 4,874
Percent Increase: 12.8%
Students seeking warm weather should steer clear of Minneapolis. But for those willing to brave the winter, the school offers relatively affordable in-state tuition and strong programs in biology and psychology.
University of California—Santa Cruz
University of California—Santa Cruz | StartClass
Total Increase: 4,907
Percent Increase: 17.4%
Everyone wants to be a banana slug. In the last 10 years, UC Santa Cruz’s acceptance rate dropped by nearly 20% to a low of 60% in 2013. The sharp increase in applicants will likely cause that rate to drop further.
University of Chicago
University of Chicago | StartClass
Total Increase: 5,033
Percent Increase: 19.9%
With an 8.8% acceptance rate, the University of Chicago beats out its competitors on this list in terms of selectivity. Where it falls behind: tuition. At $47,514 per year, this school is one of the priciest in the country.
California State University—Long Beach
California State University—Long Beach | StartClass
Total Increase: 5,244
Percent Increase: 10.5%
With an in-state tuition of $6,240, it’s no surprise that Cal State Long Beach has seen a 10% rise in applicants. It’s also no surprise that 94% of the student body is from California.
Ohio State University—Main Campus
Ohio State University-Main Campus | StartClass
Total Increase: 5,543
Percent Increase: 21.5%
With one of the strongest football teams in the Big Ten, Ohio State has done well recruiting top-tier talent. The 21.5% increase in applicants will surely boost school spirit.
University of California—Santa Barbara
University of California—Santa Barbara | StartClass
Total Increase: 5,594
Percent Increase: 11.3%
Like many UCs, Santa Barbara saw an impressive increase in applicants in 2013. The school has kept its acceptance rate relatively stable over the last few years, deciding to enroll more students each year.
Stetson University | StartClass
Total Increase: 5,647
Percent Increase: 116.1%
With a student body of just over 4,000 students, Stetson is one of the smallest schools on this list. Despite receiving a massive increase in applicants, Stetson only increased admissions by 4.2% in 2013, holding true to its small school image.
University of Central Oklahoma
University of Central Oklahoma | StartClass
Total Increase: 5,648
Percent Increase: 118.1%
With an acceptance rate of 84% and an in-state tuition of just $5,437, UCO is an attractive option for many students. Throw in solid financial aid—74% of qualified freshmen receive aid—and it’s no surprise that the number of applicants more than doubled in 2013.
University of Washington—Seattle Campus
University of Washington—Seattle | StartClass
Total Increase: 5,659
Percent Increase: 23.1%
UW’s acceptance rate has been gradually falling for the last ten years. The 2013 acceptance rate of 55.2% was the lowest yet. Despite becoming more selective, UW continues to admit more students; it just can’t keep up with the growing number of applicants.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | StartClass
Total Increase: 5,785
Percent Increase: 25.5%
As the largest school in North Carolina, UNC continues to grow at an impressive rate. The university offers affordable in-state tuition ($8,340) but continues to charge a premium for out-of-state students ($30,122). Expect the number of in-state applications to rise.
San Diego State University
San Diego State University | StartClass
Total Increase: 6,136
Percent Increase: 13.6%
San Diego State had a record-breaking number of applicants in 2013. Despite the growth in applicants, the school admitted roughly the same number of students, resulting in its lowest acceptance rate yet (31.2%).
Tuskegee University | StartClass
Total Increase: 7,207
Percent Increase: 256.0%
The third Alabama school to make the list, Tuskegee is also the smallest. Despite a massive increase in applicants, Tuskegee has opted to remain a small school. In fact, Tuskegee admitted 20.6% fewer students in 2013 than it did the year before.
University of California—Irvine
University of California—Irvine | StartClass
Total Increase: 7,232
Percent Increase: 14.6%
As one of the youngest schools in the UC system, Irvine has been growing steadily. Like many of the UCs, Irvine saw a dramatic rise in applicants in 2013. Things are looking good for the Anteaters.
University of California—San Diego
University of California—San Diego | StartClass
Total Increase: 7,383
Percent Increase: 13.8%
UCSD responded to the rise in applications by increasing its undergraduate enrollment. In fact, the school enrolled 32.8% more students in 2013 than the previous year. That’s more than any other UC on this list.
Texas State University
Texas State University | StartClass
Total Increase: 8,521
Percent Increase: 81.8%
After an impressive 81.8% increase in applications, Texas State University increased its enrollment by a healthy 21.9%. With 98% of the student body from in-state, the school has done well in appealing to local Texans.
University of California—Berkeley
University of California—Berkeley | StartClass
Total Increase: 8,735
Percent Increase: 16.5%
Despite a large increase in applicants, Berkeley admitted fewer students in 2013 than 2012. As expected, Berkeley’s already low acceptance fell further to a record low of 18%—making it the most competitive school in the UC system.
University of California—Los Angeles
University of California—Los Angeles | StartClass
Total Increase: 11,120
Percent Increase: 18.1%
Remarkably, UCLA is the fourth school UC to make the top 10 (and the fifth school in California). Are students tired of cold weather? Or have tough economic times driven more students to apply to in-state public universities? Regardless of what’s driving the surge in applications, the UC schools are expected to become more selective.
New York University
New York University | StartClass
Total Increase: 15,038
Percent Increase: 35.1%
NYU takes the top spot with an incredible 15,038 increase in applicants in just one year. Even for a school as large as NYU—44,599 total students—that’s still an impressive 35.1% increase in applicants.
Part of NYU’s success comes from its overseas campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai and various study abroad options. For students looking for that global experience, NYU is at the top of its game.
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