Selectivity of Higher Education Institutions, U.S.

Selectivity is the measure of how easy or difficult it is for an applicant to receive admission to a college or university. This entry first discusses variations in selectivity at higher education institutions in the United States, factors influencing selectivity, and how selectivity relates to graduation rates and graduates’ career success. It then looks at the relationship between selectivity and students’ socioeconomic status.

Of the approximately 4,600 degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the United States, about 1,000 are community colleges that are open access and therefore nonselective. Among 4-year institutions, there is a range of selectivity. In fall 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, 16.3% of degree-granting postsecondary institutions accepted more than 85% of applicants, 28.7% accepted between 71% ...

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