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Top States For 2023 Grads?

Though my students still apply to dream schools in the northeast and midwest that admit <15%, the collective gaze has shifted south. Colleges in these states attracted the most applications (increasing in order). Since decisions are still coming in, I’ll report on that later.

Students submitted 10 applications to schools in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Texas, and West Virginia. Along with the usual enthusiasm for the Crimson Tide, I saw my first applicant to Ole Miss. The Texas privates: SMU, TCU, and Baylor prevailed, since the state system admits <10% out-of-state students. West Virginia University and the University of Kentucky offered significant merit aid, and super-selective Tulane admitted two students ED.

Next came Virginia, with 19 total applications to JMU (most popular), Virginia Tech (very selective for STEM), the University of Richmond, the College of William & Mary, and UVA (ED for any edge).

North Carolina colleges received 22 applications (many to annual favorite and increasingly selective Elon). NC State gets more attention each year, as does UNC Wilmington. Two were interested in East Carolina (admitted), and a few were UNC-Chapel Hill hopefuls (denied–no surprise there).

Florida followed, with a total of 26 applications. Most applied to Florida’s few test-optional colleges: the University of Tampa, which checks many students’ boxes, the University of Miami, which uniquely blends selectivity and merit aid, and Eckerd and Flagler, two small beachside colleges. Students reached for the University of Florida, Florida State (both very selective), and the University of South Florida, which all require test scores.

Finally, South Carolina tops the list with a grand total of 27 applications divided between Clemson, the University of South Carolina, and the College of Charleston. (No wonder so many were deferred.) Add to that Coastal Carolina, a growing favorite offering interdisciplinary majors and resort-like atmosphere.

This southern trend continues as I build my juniors’ lists (LSU is another new addition). I’m visiting more of these schools (I’ve done Florida and Georgia tours, and am heading to North Carolina later in March), so I can help my southern-hopeful students more. South Carolina is next!


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