College applications are up for fall 2023, the Common App’s latest numbers show, including underrepresented and first-generation students. Common App compared this year’s early application numbers to 2019 to avoid drawing comparisons to the application seasons upended by COVID.
In short, more applicants applied to more institutions compared to the fall before the pandemic. The data—which is restricted to the 841 member colleges that used the Common App in 2019—also show that through Dec. 1, 2022:
- 952,985 distinct first-year applicants have applied to those Common App members—a 24% increase
- Total application volume rose 36% to over 4 million.
- Applicants filed an average of 4.3 applications each—a 10% increase.
- Underrepresented minority applicants grew by 37% while first-generation applicants rose by 43%.
- The number of distinct international applicants has increased at over triple the rate of domestic applicants since 2019–20. China, India, Nigeria, Ghana, and Canada were the leading countries for international applicants.
- Applications to public institutions grew more than those to private schools—47% for publics, 25% for privates.
Other data shows that students reporting eligibility for a Common App fee waiver increased at nearly three times the rate of students not reporting waiver eligibility.
Meanwhile, more than half of the applicants from within in the U.S. resided in the most affluent quintile (the top 20%) of ZIP codes nationwide, compared to just 6% from the bottom fifth. These numbers are similar to data from past early application seasons.
“When examining application trends through early deadlines in Fall 2022, we see tremendous growth in applicant and application totals over the past three seasons,” the report concludes. “The majority of applicants continue to hail from the wealthiest zip codes and test score reporting behaviors have fallen slightly from last season and still vary significantly across demographic subgroups.”