College freshmen entering school last fall were less likely to attend their first choice of college, a function of both competition and cost, than at any other time since 1974, and fewer received financial aid through grants or scholarships, according to an annual survey of nearly 204,000 high school students.
The survey also indicated that more students are focusing on academics and that more freshmen say they have adopted liberal social views.
The survey, “The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2011,” based on the responses of full-time students at 270 institutions, said those who were enrolled at their first choice fell to 58 percent in 2011. The figure, which reached a high of 80 percent in 1975, has been declining since 2006.
John H. Pryor, director of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at the University of California, Los Angeles, which administers the survey, pointed to a related statistic: 18 percent of students, or nearly 1 in 5, who are accepted to their first-choice school decided not to attend.