How do you compare with last year's college freshman class?

How many of them were the first in their family to attend college? Do applicants mostly get accepted to their first-choice colleges? Do more students from private schools attend college? Do people enroll in college mostly to get a better job or to study something that interests them?

Every year, the Chronicle of Higher Education (a leading source of information about higher education) releases The Almanac of Education, full of data on a wide range of issues. From this year's edition, we've pulled some of the facts on last year's class of incoming freshmen. We think you'll find these data-nuggets helpful, or at least interesting.

Obtained from nearly 200,000 first-time full-time students entering 283 four-year colleges last year, here is our idiosyncratic excerpt of the survey results:

  • Nearly 20% of freshmen were first-generation college students, meaning they are the first in their family to attend college. If you will fall into this category, we applaud you for being a trailblazer, and want to direct you to these videos of college students talking about what college is really like. Learn all you can so you're as prepared as possible!
  • Here's some good news: 76.7% of freshman sampled were accepted by their first-choice of all the colleges to which they applied! Here is some information about college applications and selection.
  • Where did these 200,000 freshmen come from? While some students came from charter schools or private schools of various sorts, most incoming students — 76.8% — came from public high schools.
  • Why do students go to college at all? The most popular answers were "to be able to get a better job" (87.9%), "to learn more about things that interest me" (82.5%), and "to get training for a specific career" (79.3%). Those are great reasons!

We urge you to be thinking about your own journey to college, and what your answers might be to these same questions next year this time.