boxes with surprise contents inside

We know that the college process—and everything it entails, from high school coursework and standardized tests to applications and financial aid—is a major source of stress. 

But it doesn't have to be! We've just released College Admission 101, a YouTube Learning Playlist in which our Editor-in-Chief Rob Franek walks you through the whole process—including classes and grades, extracurriculars, essays, letters of recommendation, interviews, and financial aid packages. Here's the takeaway: The process is knowable and navigable, and we are here to help you get into—and thrive at—your dream school. Watch the nine-video series for in-depth guidance that will help you strengthen your competitiveness as a candidate, maximize your scores as a test taker, and earn financial aid dollars as a student. You can read our release on the series here.

To show you just how entirely probable your future college acceptance is, we've gathered these 11 surprising facts.

1. More than three-quarters of college applicants get into their first-choice schools. 

Watch video #1 to find out how to maximize your chances of joining that group!

2. UCLA is the #1-most-applied-to college, with nearly 114,000 applications yearly.

Watch video #2 to find out why that’s less intimidating than it seems.

3. It's possible to write a college essay about something as mundane as showering...and get into Yale! (Someone did.) 

Watch video #5 to find out about surprising topics that made the cut!

4. While college debt is the single greatest cause for concern among students and parents (according to our College Hopes and Worries survey), a whopping 85 percent of students are awarded financial aid. 

Watch video #7 to find out why that percentage is probably lower than it should be.

5. The average financial aid award per student is nearly $15,000

Watch video #7 to learn about what you can do to maximize your financial aid.

6. Even at test-optional schools, strong SAT or ACT scores can help students unlock merit-based aid. 

Watch video #4 to discover what standardized tests can do for you.

7. About 43 percent of all institutional aid funds are merit-based. 

Watch video #4 to find out about how that percentage has been on the rise.

8. There is no penalty for guessing on the SAT, ACT, or AP exams.

Watch video #4 for test-taking tips that will help you maximize your scores.

9. The top admissions factor at every college is a student’s high school GPA.

Watch video #3 to find out whether it’s better to get an A in a regular class or a B in an honors class.

10. Social media activity can sometimes hurt college prospects—but it can also help students get into their dream schools.

Watch video #6 to find out how you can use social media to your advantage in the college process.

11. Students can minimize college debt risk with income-share agreements.

Watch video #8 to discover other outside-the-box strategies to help you save money on college.


For more expert insights into the college process, watch the whole College Admission 101 series.