College Application Survey Results

Continuation from the last post.

Thanks to /r/applyingtocollege, I was able to amass a great amount of data.


See the full results for yourself here.

A whopping 40.4% of the responses came from California! According to the US Census Bureau, only about 12% of the responses should have come from here. This may have had to do with the fact that this survey was posted around 9:30PM, and because differences in time zones most of the US west coast (read: California) would have had a chance to respond.


Another thing that caught me off guard was that there were people applying to 5+ schools early – 29, in fact. Perhaps the people on the much higher end were looking to apply to all of their schools early and get their results early?


And the confidence scale was also quite interesting. It’s odd that the distribution, although skewed, looks roughly normal, with small spikes for 1 and 10. I wonder what made people pick 7 instead of 6 or 8? I was the first person to test the survey and I picked 7 as well. Maybe it’s because 7 isn’t as close to the middle as 6 is, but is still sufficiently far away from 10 to demonstrate some level of modesty or cautiousness. Another thing: people who left comments were more likely to score lower on the confidence scale (but most of the comments were “i’m dying lol” or “VERY STRESSFUL” so that makes sense). More confident people were less likely to leave comments.


Possible Sources of Error

Well, the kind of students who go out of their way to find and interact with a community focused on college applications probably have enough initiative to go to more competitive schools. As a result, many would feel the need to apply to many colleges because the acceptance rate is so incredibly low, especially for early applicants. I wonder how the results would have changed if I posted the survey after early decisions were released; the second graph would have most likely been even more skewed to the left than it already is.

In hindsight, I should have allowed short answers for the numbers and given instructions to type a number. Then, I would have been able to import the data from a spreadsheet and make the graph myself.

Final Comments

College applications can be the most stressful time of the year, especially if one does not manage their time well by not starting the UC application until four days before the deadline. At least we all know that there are hundreds of thousands of other individuals who are going through the same experience – each handling it differently – and that we can all suffer together.

On a side note, pie charts are terrible for displaying population distribution (something I will fix at a later date 🙂 ).

Only marginally related: The most stressful time for me was watching this…


…The number of visits increased significantly a week or so before my early decisions were released, and I put this blog on my college applications as a hobby. At least now I know which weeks I was scrutinized by admissions officers.



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