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What Is the Common Data Set for Colleges?

You may have heard the phrase Common Data Set thrown around in regard to college admission. But what is it and how does it help you? Our experts weigh in.

Silhouette of person sitting at desk with laptopRhiannon Schade
Director of College Counseling
Collegewise of Millburn

The Common Data Set is a document prepared by the office of institutional research at virtually all colleges and universities in the country. It includes detailed information on everything from enrollment, to financial aid. The part that my students and families use most is the one that focuses on admission data. It allows you to learn, straight from the source, answers to questions like: How many students applied to this college last year? How many were admitted? How many of the accepted students were admitted through a binding Early Decision plan? What percentage of the enrolling first-year class earned over a 30 on the English portion of the ACT? So the data is very specific. And while data itself should never be the reason to pursue a particular college or even application strategy, it can help students be more aware of the implications of their choices and the realities about how selective some colleges are.

Encourage your students to factor the facts into their college search by using our College Compare tool to narrow down their school lists.

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