About the Report

The College Choice Report is an annual report series that follows an ACT-tested high school graduating class from high school through their second year of college. It focuses on an alternating set of student characteristics, preferences, and college search behaviors to assist enrollment managers, admissions personnel, and other college administrators with student recruitment, enrollment, and persistence.

This College Choice Report series follows the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013, focusing on students’ selection of a college major or program of study. This is an important topic for enrollment managers and admissions officers to consider, as students’ choices of major have a number of implications for postsecondary institutions. For example, colleges can use information about students’ choices of planned major in both anticipating the demand for and reallocating the supply of seats within and across individual programs of study at an institution. Colleges can also use information about students’ choices of planned major to help them find programs of study that are a good fit with their interests, which in turn may help to increase student persistence rates and decrease the overall time to degree.

  • Part 1 of this series, Preferences and Prospects (released November 2013), covers such topics as students’ choice of planned major, certainty of planned major choice, request for assistance with educational and occupational plans, Interest-Major Fit, best-fitting major, and selection of major as the most important factor in choosing a college.
  • Part 2 of this series, Enrollment Patterns (released July 2014), focuses on the college enrollment of these ACT-tested high school graduates and addresses topics such as the consistency of college major choice between ACT® college readiness assessment registration and the first year of college and changes to Interest-Major Fit among students who declared majors outside of their planned major areas.
  • Part 3 of this series, Persistence and Transfer (to be released spring 2015) will focus on student persistence within majors between the first and second year of college, changes in Interest-Major Fit among students who changed majors, and the relationship between Interest-Major Fit and student persistence both within major and within college.

How to Use This Report

This report builds on a foundation of knowledge about the academic readiness of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 as presented in The Condition of College & Career Readiness. An important conclusion of the Condition report is that far too many high school graduates are not prepared for success in college and career as defined by their attainment of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks. We encourage you to read through the Condition report to have a better context for interpreting the findings of this report.

More than half (54%) of the graduating class of 2013 took the ACT during high school. Whether you are searching for prospective students locally or in other parts of the country, a better understanding of the preferences and college choice behaviors of ACT-tested students can improve your marketing and recruitment strategies. The information presented in this report and in the accompanying online charts and maps can provide insights to inform discussions on your campus about the desired characteristics and locations of prospective students and your strategies for recruiting them. For colleges that participate in ACT’s Educational Opportunity Service (EOS), the information provided in this report can help you to establish or refine your selection criteria to create more efficient student searches. Over time, this report can also serve as a guide to help you gauge the effectiveness of your search, marketing, and recruitment strategies.

Sources

Student information provided in this report—such as students’ background characteristics, grade level at time of testing, ACT scores, planned major, and participation in EOS—is collected when students register for and take the ACT. College enrollment is determined by matching the test records of the ACT-tested graduating class of 2013 with enrollment records that colleges provide to the National Student Clearinghouse. Data from the National Student Clearinghouse accounts for 95% of all enrollments in Title IV, degree-granting institutions in the nation.