Enrolling in College

1,799,243 students from the high school graduating class of 2013 took the ACT. Of this group, 69% enrolled in college during fall 2013.

Percent of ACT-Tested Students Who Enrolled in College by ACT Composite Score and Gender

  • As ACT Composite score increases, the percentage of students who enrolled in college increases. The one exception is for students in the score range of 33–36, who attended college at lower rates than their peers in the score range of 28–32. This decrease is due, in part, to the absence of some highly selective colleges within National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) data.
  • With the exception of students in the score range of 33–36, a larger percentage of females than males enrolled in college.
  • The college enrollment rate gap between females and males decreases as ACT Composite score increases.
Chart showing Percent of ACT-Tested Students Who Enrolled in College by ACT Composite Score and Gender

Graph reads: 42% of females with an ACT Composite score in the range of 1–15 enrolled in college during fall 2013.

ACT Composite
Score Range
FemaleMale
1–1542%33%
16–1966%58%
20–2381%74%
24–2787%82%
28–3289%86%
33–3685%85%

Note: Based on 99.5% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 who reported gender.


Percent of ACT-Tested Students Who Enrolled in College by ACT Composite Score and Parent Education Level

  • Within each level of parent education, the percentage of students who enrolled in college increases with ACT Composite score, with the exception of students in the 33–36 score range whose parents have a graduate degree.
  • There are differences in college-going rates by parent education level within the lower ranges of the ACT Composite score scale. In particular, enrollment rates increase with an increase in parents’ education levels. These enrollment rate gaps by parent education level diminish as ACT Composite score increases.
Chart showing Percent of ACT-Tested Students Who Enrolled in College by ACT Composite Score and Parent Education Level

Graph reads: 33% of students with an ACT Composite score in the range of 1–15 whose parents did not attend college enrolled in college during fall 2013.

ACT Composite
Score Range
No CollegeSome CollegeBachelor’s DegreeGraduate Degree
1–1533%42%50%52%
16–1954%64%71%74%
20–2369%76%82%84%
24–2779%83%87%87%
28–3285%87%89%88%
33–3687%88%87%85%

Note: Based on 82% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 who reported parent education level.


Percent of ACT-Tested Students Who Enrolled in College by ACT Composite Score and Degree Plans

  • Students who planned to earn less than a bachelor’s degree entered college at far lower rates than students who planned to earn either a bachelor’s or graduate degree, regardless of ACT Composite score range.
  • For students who planned to earn less than a bachelor’s degree, the percentage of students who enrolled in college increases in a linear fashion with ACT Composite score. For students with higher degree aspirations, enrollment rates flatten out in the upper ranges of the score scale. The largest enrollment rate gaps among these groups are therefore in the middle ranges of the score scale.
Chart showing Percent of ACT-Tested Students Who Enrolled in College by ACT Composite Score and Degree Plans

Graph reads: 23% of students with an ACT Composite score in the range of 1–15 who planned to earn less than a bachelor’s degree enrolled in college during fall 2013.

ACT Composite
Score Range
Less Than Bachelor’s DegreeBachelor’s DegreeGraduate Degree
1–1523%46%48%
16–1938%66%70%
20–2349%78%82%
24–2756%84%87%
28–3264%88%88%
33–3669%87%85%

Note: Based on 87% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 who reported degree plans.


When students register for the ACT, they can select a college major that they plan to enter upon enrolling in college. Among ACT-tested high school graduates, 79% selected a specific major, whereas 15% indicated that they were undecided about their planned major.

Percent of ACT-Tested Students Who Enrolled in College by ACT Composite Score and Planned Major Status

  • For most of the ACT Composite score range, there is essentially no difference in the college enrollment rates of students who selected a planned major and those who were undecided about their choice of planned major.
  • Among both groups of students, the percentage of students who enrolled in college increases with ACT Composite score (again, with the exception of students in the score range of 33–36).
Chart showing Percent of ACT-Tested Students Who Enrolled in College by ACT Composite Score and Planned Major Status

Graph reads: 41% of students with an ACT Composite score in the range of 1–15 who were undecided about their planned major enrolled in college during fall 2013.

ACT Composite
Score Range
Selected a
Planned Major
Undecided about
Planned Major
1–1542%41%
16–1964%65%
20–2378%78%
24–2785%85%
28–3288%87%
33–3686%83%

Note: Based on 94% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 who either selected a planned major or indicated that they were undecided when they registered for the ACT.


At the time of ACT registration, students can select a specific planned major from a list of 294 alternatives. These alternatives can be grouped into 18 planned major areas.

Percent of ACT-Tested Students Who Enrolled in College by ACT Composite Score and a Subset of Planned Major Areas

  • The chart shows enrollment rates by ACT Composite score for students in a subset of planned major areas. As the chart illustrates, the percentage who enrolled in college differed considerably by their planned major area.
  • Students who planned to major in the area of Repair, Production, and Construction had the lowest enrollment rates, whereas students who planned to major in the area of Communications had the highest enrollment rates.
Chart showing Percent of ACT-Tested Students Who Enrolled in College by ACT Composite Score and a Subset of Planned Major Areas

Graph reads: 21% of students with an ACT Composite score in the range of 1–15 who planned to major in the area of Repair, Production, and Construction enrolled in college during fall 2013.

ACT Composite
Score Range
Repair, Production, and ConstructionArchitectureCommunications
1–1521%39%53%
16–1936%62%73%
20–2349%77%84%
24–2762%86%88%
28–3269%89%90%
33–3664%86%87%

Note: Based on 79% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 who selected a planned major when they registered for the ACT.


Percent of ACT-Tested Students Who Enrolled in College by Gender and Planned Major Area

  • For both females and males, there is considerable variation in the college enrollment rates of students by the area of their planned major. The planned major areas of Engineering; Communications; and Sciences: Biological and Physical have some of the highest enrollment rates for both genders, whereas the areas of Community, Family, and Personal Services; and Repair, Production, and Construction have the lowest enrollment rates for both genders.
  • In all planned major areas but one (Health Administration and Assisting), females have higher enrollment rates than males. Some of the largest female-male discrepancies in enrollment rates are among students in planned major areas that are STEM-related (e.g., Engineering; Architecture; and Engineering Technology and Drafting).
Chart showing Percent of ACT-Tested Students Who Enrolled in College by Gender and Planned Major Area

Graph reads: 84% of females and 74% of males who selected a planned major in the area of Engineering enrolled in college during fall 2013.

Planned MajorFemaleMale
Engineering84%74%
Communications83%74%
Sciences: Biological & Physical83%78%
Architecture78%66%
Education78%70%
Comp. Sci. & Mathematics77%71%
English & Foreign Lang.77%68%
Health Sci. & Techno.76%75%
Social Sciences & Law76%70%
Business75%74%
Area, Eth. & Multidiscip. Studies72%56%
Agric. & Nat. Res. Cons72%62%
Eng. Tech. & Drafting67%57%
Philosophy, Religion, & Theology66%61%
Arts: Visual & Performing65%55%
Health Admin. & Assisting63%65%
Commun, Fam., & Personal Svcs53%46%
Repair, Production, & Construction43%34%

Note: Based on 79% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 who reported gender and selected a planned major when they registered for the ACT.