Enrollment by College Preference

Enrollment by College Choice Number and ACT Composite Score, 2011

Line graph showing percent of students enrolling by college choice number and ACT Composite score range

Graph reads: 45% of ACT-tested college students with an ACT Composite score between 28 and 32 enrolled at their 1st choice college.

ACT Composite Score1st Choice2nd Choice3rd Choice4th Choice
1–1529%14%9%8%
16–1936%16%10%9%
20–2341%17%11%8%
24–2744%18%11%8%
28–3245%18%11%8%
33–3638%16%11%9%

Note: Based on ACT-tested college students who sent scores to at least 1 college when registering for the ACT. For students who tested more than once, the college choice set from the last ACT test was used.

Students can send their test scores to up to 4 colleges or scholarship agencies in preferential order when they register for the ACT. This ranking of their college choices provides an early indicator of students’ intentions and has been shown by ACT research to be an important predictor of college enrollment.

  • Regardless of ACT Composite score, ACT-tested college enrollees attended their 1st choice college at significantly higher rates than that for their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th choice colleges.
  • The rate at which students enrolled at their 1st choice college increased steadily between the ACT score ranges of 1 to 15 and 28 to 32, and then decreased for the score range of 33 to 36. The rates at which students enrolled at their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th choice colleges varied far less by ACT Composite score.

Enrollment at Same College Type as Preference by ACT Composite Score, 2011

Line graph showing percent of students enrolling at same college type as their preference by ACT Composite score range

Graph reads: 99% of ACT-tested college students with an ACT Composite score between 33 and 36 who preferred a 4-year college enrolled at a 4-year college.

ACT Composite
Score
4-Year
Total
4-Year
Public
4-Year
Private
2-Year
Total
1–1545%35%28%86%
16–1964%52%43%84%
20–2379%65%53%79%
24–2790%74%60%73%
28–3296%78%64%63%
33–3699%75%70%

Note: Based on ACT-tested college students who provided college type preference when registering for the ACT. Enrollment rates not provided for ACT Composite score ranges where sample size is less than 50.

When students register for the ACT, they can indicate the type of college that they prefer to attend. In general, the students’ college type preference is a good indicator of the type of college that they eventually attend.

  • Regardless of whether the college is public or private, students with a 4-year college preference are more likely to attend this college type as their ACT Composite score increases.
  • Students with a 2-year college preference are less likely to attend this college type as their ACT Composite score increases.