Actually, the reality is that parents should know these things about college admissions even earlier. They should know these things before kids start thinking about colleges and establishing preferences. The reasons are because knowledge of college admissions can help parents set expectations that can have dramatic effects for the student and the family.

If parents are familiar with these 7 things, they can help guide the student’s approach to high school in general. The stress level for the student and her household, in general, will depend on which classes she decides to take and which extracurriculars to participate in. Students can make very different choices in these areas depending on if they think they are facing uncertain college admissions and competition from everyone else or if they know exactly what will be required to get into a quality college.

The second reason why parents should get ahead of the curve in learning about college admissions is to help control the costs. If the parents don’t set the expectations about what is considered a good college and how much they can afford, the colleges, the student’s friends, or even the parents’ peers will.

Naturally, there is much more than the following 7 items parents should know about college admissions. But I selected the following seven as essential information that will arm parents with basic information to help take control of the college admissions process.

  1. The average acceptance rate for freshman in the fall of 2016 was 65.4%.

Why you need to know this: There are over 1,600 four-year colleges with 500 or more full-time undergraduates. Most of them are accepting more students than they reject. In fact, according to a survey of college freshman by the Higher Education Research Institute, around 75% of students are accepted at their first choice college.

  1. Less than 20% of colleges accept fewer than 50% of applicants

Why you need to know this: Obviously the most competitive colleges in the country have very low acceptance rates. However, these schools receive a disproportionate amount of media attention which leaves too many families with the impression that all quality colleges are rejecting most of their applicants.

  1. Early decision can significantly improve your chances of admissions

Why you need to know this: For those whose goal is to attend a college with an acceptance rate of less than 35%, Early Decision may be the best option you have for getting accepting. Jeff Levy compiles a list of ED acceptance rates each year that you can download. HOWEVER, be prepared to pay whatever the college claims you can afford to pay. Therefore, figure out if you can afford it before your teen applies early decision.

  1. Grades are the most significant factor in college admissions, even more so than test scores and strength of curriculum.

Why you need to know this: First, you need to understand that this is an average based on the annual survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). The actual importance will differ depending on if the college is public or private or even the size. However, this means that, in general, last minute test prep that raises test scores won’t erase 4 years of less than stellar grades.

  1. Taking that one extra AP Course may not be the key to successful college admissions.

Why you need to know this: There’s increasing controversy around the value of AP courses. Colleges can use them as a proxy to gauge the strength of curriculum and did the student take the most demanding curriculum available. Yet, these same colleges aren’t likely to accept AP test scores for college credit. The NACAC survey found only 4.2% of college admission offices rated AP scores as having considerable importance and 28.9% ranked them as having moderate importance. Ultimately, almost 70% of college freshman took four or fewer AP Courses in high school. Of course, you can argue that they are the ones who didn’t go to the most selective colleges in the country. The point is to take a hard look at the colleges you’re considering applying to before piling on more AP Courses.

  1. In Public Schools, counselors spend an average of 30% of their time on post-secondary admissions counseling.

Why you need to know this: You should use this number to get some idea of how much time the counselor will actually be able to spend working with your student on college admissions. This also includes time the counselor spends writing counselor letters for seniors, organizing college information sessions, and so on. The counselor can also be critical in explaining the strength of the curriculum. Given that the average counselor is assigned 470 students, be aware of how much time the counselor will actually be able to provide one on one for your student. And in most cases, paying for college isn’t something counselors address on an individual basis.

  1. Out-of-state public universities charge non-residents an average of $26,290 more than state residents.

Why you need to know this: In most cases, definitely not all, students will pay dramatically more to attend a public university out-of-state than their in-state options. Furthermore, they will also find limited financial aid available in such situations. If parents are trying to minimize the cost of college, they need to make sure they set expectations of what is affordable and what isn’t.

I hope this information helps you! However it’s only one part of a bigger system, which is why I’ve decided to reveal the whole MATCH Method to getting free funding for college education on a free live webinar over the next few days. You can learn more and register for it on this page.

Michelle K.