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High-School Grades Still Count Most in College Admissions

Academic performance in high school remains the top-ranked factor in college-admissions decisions on prospective first-time freshmen, according to a new report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

In its latest State of College Admission report, the association says that grades in college-preparatory courses were rated as “considerably important” by about 80 percent of institutions it surveyed. Grades in all courses, the strength of the curriculum, and admissions-test scores were the next most important factors, with each rated as considerably important by about 60 percent of colleges.

In other findings, the report notes that a long decline in the average yield rate for first-time freshmen appears to have stabilized. The rate, which is the percentage of accepted students who go on to enroll, rose in the fall of 2014 to 36.2 percent, a slight increase from the previous year’s 35.7 percent. The rate had fallen steadily since 2002, when it was 48.7 percent.

Strategies that institutions are using to improve their yield rates, says the report, include putting more focus on bringing in transfer students and international students, increasing the number of early-decision applicants they accept, and making greater use of wait lists.

The report is based on data collected from two annual NACAC surveys, the Counseling Trends Survey and the Admission Trends Survey, which were conducted in 2014 and 2015.

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