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50 colleges where applications are on the rise compared to pre-COVID

As overall enrollment declines, Numerade analyzed NCES data to determine which colleges are seeing the largest growth in applications.
As overall enrollment declines, Numerade analyzed NCES data to determine which colleges are seeing the largest growth in applications. - Tero Vesalainen // Shutterstock
As overall enrollment declines, Numerade analyzed NCES data to determine which colleges are seeing the largest growth in applications. - Tero Vesalainen // Shutterstock
Dom DiFurio

This summer, high school students worldwide will begin researching the colleges that best suit their ambitions for the future, sending millions of applications to their top schools by the fall.

Numerade analyzed National Center for Education Statistics data to rank the 50 colleges where applications are growing the fastest. To be included, colleges and universities had to receive at least 2,000 applications in the 2022-2023 school year and offer four-year degrees. They are ranked by the percent increase in applications from the 2019-2020 school year to the 2022-2023 school year, the latest data available.

College application volumes have grown steadily over the past decade, plateauing in 2020 and rising again the following year. The COVID-19 pandemic presented a blow to the college experience, altering it completely and pushing enrollees into online courses they didn’t intend to take. Applications have seen growth, but by 2022, around 1.5 million fewer students were enrolled in college than before the pandemic.

Some schools have continued to grow their applications by more than 100% from 2019-2022 despite survey data suggesting that the overall enrollment decline is primarily due to the belief that a college degree holds less value today than in previous decades. That’s despite evidence of a growing earnings gap between young people with college degrees and those without. The typical college degree recipient can earn $20,000 more annually when entering the workforce than their peers without a degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In the fall of 2022, prospective first-time undergraduate students sent more than 13 million applications to U.S. schools. Technical schools, as well as those focused on nursing and private Christian colleges, made up a number of the top schools for post-COVID application growth, according to NCES data.

Read on to see which U.S. colleges and universities saw the largest growth in applications, as well as their admissions growth.


James R. Martin // Shutterstock

James R. Martin // Shutterstock

#50. Bethune-Cookman University

Located in Daytona Beach, Florida
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 12,818
— 81.0% more than in 2019
— 138.3% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 10,891
— 83.0% change from 2019
— 175.5% change from 2012

Canva

Canva

#49. Clemson University

Located in Clemson, South Carolina
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 52,819
— 81.7% more than in 2019
— 209.4% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 22,704
— 52.4% change from 2019
— 110.2% change from 2012

Wirestock Creators // Shutterstock

Wirestock Creators // Shutterstock

#48. Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

Located in Carbondale, Illinois
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 9,771
— 81.7% more than in 2019
— -32.8% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 8,940
— 150.5% change from 2019
— 19.6% change from 2012

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Canva

#47. The University of Montana

Located in Missoula, Montana
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 8,943
— 82.1% more than in 2019
— 67.9% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 8,530
— 84.9% change from 2019
— 70.4% change from 2012

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Canva

#46. Schreiner University

Located in Kerrville, Texas
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 2,202
— 84.4% more than in 2019
— 187.1% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 1,876
— 68.6% change from 2019
— 156.6% change from 2012

Canva

Canva

#45. Indiana State University

Located in Terre Haute, Indiana
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 18,531
— 85.2% more than in 2019
— 73.0% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 17,105
— 90.8% change from 2019
— 85.0% change from 2012

Susan Montgomery // Shutterstock

Susan Montgomery // Shutterstock

#44. University of Michigan-Dearborn

Located in Dearborn, Michigan
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 12,026
— 85.9% more than in 2019
— 158.5% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 6,506
— 62.3% change from 2019
— 124.3% change from 2012

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Canva

#43. College of Charleston

Located in Charleston, South Carolina
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 22,020
— 86.9% more than in 2019
— 98.6% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 16,666
— 80.6% change from 2019
— 104.5% change from 2012

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Canva

#42. The College of Idaho

Located in Caldwell, Idaho
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 4,490
— 87.2% more than in 2019
— 223.5% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 2,044
— 75.3% change from 2019
— 126.9% change from 2012

quiggyt4 // Shutterstock

quiggyt4 // Shutterstock

#41. Caldwell University

Located in Caldwell, New Jersey
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 6,649
— 88.5% more than in 2019
— 153.3% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 4,413
— 34.2% change from 2019
— 174.4% change from 2012

Canva

Canva

#40. Grace College and Theological Seminary

Located in Winona Lake, Indiana
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 4,071
— 89.4% more than in 2019
— 64.8% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 3,445
— 100.6% change from 2019
— 53.2% change from 2012

John Arehart // Shutterstock

John Arehart // Shutterstock

#39. Champlain College

Located in Burlington, Vermont
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 6,940
— 91.2% more than in 2019
— 56.2% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 3,864
— 25.0% change from 2019
— 17.6% change from 2012

Joe Koshollek/NCAA Photos // Getty Images

Joe Koshollek/NCAA Photos // Getty Images

#38. University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Located in Stevens Point, Wisconsin
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 8,120
— 94.0% more than in 2019
— 59.4% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 7,231
— 104.4% change from 2019
— 87.8% change from 2012

Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

#37. University of Wisconsin-Stout

Located in Menomonie, Wisconsin
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 6,231
— 94.6% more than in 2019
— 83.8% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 5,378
— 85.5% change from 2019
— 79.5% change from 2012

Chad Robertson Media // Shutterstock

Chad Robertson Media // Shutterstock

#36. University of South Alabama

Located in Mobile, Alabama
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 12,550
— 97.6% more than in 2019
— 163.1% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 8,203
— 64.2% change from 2019
— 97.2% change from 2012

Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

#35. California Institute of Technology

Located in Pasadena, California
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 16,626
— 98.7% more than in 2019
— 218.2% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 448
— -16.6% change from 2019
— -32.8% change from 2012

Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

#34. University of Wisconsin-Superior

Located in Superior, Wisconsin
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 2,319
— 98.9% more than in 2019
— 139.3% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 2,217
— 131.9% change from 2019
— 156.0% change from 2012

University of College // Shutterstock

University of College // Shutterstock

#33. Arizona State University Campus Immersion

Located in Tempe, Arizona
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 68,789
— 101.2% more than in 2019
— 131.4% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 61,739
— 108.8% change from 2019
— 133.6% change from 2012

Scott Taetsch/NCAA Photos // Getty Images

Scott Taetsch/NCAA Photos // Getty Images

#32. Northwest Nazarene University

Located in Nampa, Idaho
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 3,394
— 103.7% more than in 2019
— 241.8% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 2,993
— 110.0% change from 2019
— 348.7% change from 2012

Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post // Getty Images

Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post // Getty Images

#31. Fort Valley State University

Located in Fort Valley, Georgia
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 6,247
— 104.2% more than in 2019
— -14.9% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 2,692
— 69.8% change from 2019
— 14.9% change from 2012

Anna Moneymaker // Getty Images

Anna Moneymaker // Getty Images

#30. Morgan State University

Located in Baltimore
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 16,845
— 106.6% more than in 2019
— 233.5% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 14,382
— 160.0% change from 2019
— 383.6% change from 2012

denton.loving // Shutterstock

denton.loving // Shutterstock

#29. Bennington College

Located in Bennington, Vermont
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 2,801
— 108.4% more than in 2019
— 126.6% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 1,269
— 55.3% change from 2019
— 62.9% change from 2012

James Aloysius Mahan V // Shutterstock

James Aloysius Mahan V // Shutterstock

#28. Colgate University

Located in Hamilton, New York
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 21,109
— 112.1% more than in 2019
— 170.7% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 2,624
— 16.8% change from 2019
— 14.6% change from 2012

Spiroview Inc // Shutterstock

Spiroview Inc // Shutterstock

#27. D’Youville University

Located in Buffalo, New York
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 3,115
— 116.5% more than in 2019
— 174.4% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 2,618
— 106.6% change from 2019
— 180.6% change from 2012

Rosemarie Mosteller // Shutterstock

Rosemarie Mosteller // Shutterstock

#26. University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Located in Colorado Springs, Colorado
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 14,751
— 119.2% more than in 2019
— 66.7% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 12,504
— 113.2% change from 2019
— 137.1% change from 2012

Canva

Canva

#25. Anderson University

Located in Anderson, South Carolina
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 5,043
— 121.5% more than in 2019
— 188.2% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 2,289
— 46.3% change from 2019
— 83.7% change from 2012

Rob Hainer // Shutterstock

Rob Hainer // Shutterstock

#24. Auburn University

Located in Auburn, Alabama
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 45,693
— 126.1% more than in 2019
— 161.7% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 19,988
— 22.6% change from 2019
— 48.2% change from 2012

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Canva

#23. Bethany College

Located in Bethany, West Virginia
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 2,651
— 130.5% more than in 2019
— 74.1% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 1,721
— 57.0% change from 2019
— 162.7% change from 2012

Education Images/Universal Images Group // Getty Images

Education Images/Universal Images Group // Getty Images

#22. Lewis-Clark State College

Located in Lewiston, Idaho
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 3,938
— 134.0% more than in 2019
— 291.1% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 3,417
— 103.5% change from 2019
— 242.4% change from 2012

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Canva

#21. Ave Maria University

Located in Ave Maria, Florida
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 3,404
— 135.4% more than in 2019
— 174.1% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 1,505
— 22.7% change from 2019
— 85.8% change from 2012

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Canva

#20. Chicago State University

Located in Chicago
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 7,404
— 136.9% more than in 2019
— 88.0% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 3,592
— 81.4% change from 2019
— 141.6% change from 2012

KennStilger47 // Shutterstock

KennStilger47 // Shutterstock

#19. Fisk University

Located in Nashville, Tennessee
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 7,268
— 139.6% more than in 2019
— 163.5% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 5,158
— 82.0% change from 2019
— 1,678.6% change from 2012

PiXel Perfect PiX // Shutterstock

PiXel Perfect PiX // Shutterstock

#18. Clarke University

Located in Dubuque, Iowa
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 2,665
— 148.1% more than in 2019
— 157.7% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 2,260
— 124.2% change from 2019
— 196.2% change from 2012

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Canva

#17. Converse University

Located in Spartanburg, South Carolina
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 2,917
— 150.8% more than in 2019
— 110.9% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 1,621
— 56.0% change from 2019
— 128.3% change from 2012

Erik S. Lesser // Getty Images

Erik S. Lesser // Getty Images

#16. Morehouse College

Located in Atlanta
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 5,221
— 157.2% more than in 2019
— 102.8% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 3,133
— 54.6% change from 2019
— 83.1% change from 2012

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Canva

#15. South Carolina State University

Located in Orangeburg, South Carolina
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 6,833
— 159.7% more than in 2019
— 124.8% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 5,733
— 228.0% change from 2019
— 94.2% change from 2012

CrispyPork // Shutterstock

CrispyPork // Shutterstock

#14. Westminster College

Located in Fulton, Missouri
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 2,051
— 160.3% more than in 2019
— 44.4% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 1,544
— 103.4% change from 2019
— 51.2% change from 2012

Sean Rayford // Getty Images

Sean Rayford // Getty Images

#13. Edward Waters University

Located in Jacksonville, Florida
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 8,988
— 161.0% more than in 2019
— 363.8% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 7,509
— 256.7% change from 2019
— 1,240.9% change from 2012

Philip Lange // Shutterstock

Philip Lange // Shutterstock

#12. Dallas Baptist University

Located in Dallas
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 8,519
— 162.9% more than in 2019
— 216.5% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 7,784
— 167.3% change from 2019
— 600.6% change from 2012

Matej Kastelic // Shutterstock

Matej Kastelic // Shutterstock

#11. La Roche University

Located in Pittsburgh
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 3,222
— 164.1% more than in 2019
— 103.0% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 3,137
— 158.6% change from 2019
— 280.2% change from 2012

Matej Kastelic // Shutterstock

Matej Kastelic // Shutterstock

#10. Columbia College

Located in Columbia, South Carolina
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 2,176
— 166.3% more than in 2019
— 181.9% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 2,135
— 170.6% change from 2019
— 327.9% change from 2012

Theodore Trimmer // Shutterstock

Theodore Trimmer // Shutterstock

#9. Hawai’i Pacific University

Located in Honolulu
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 13,354
— 179.0% more than in 2019
— 223.4% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 11,631
— 224.7% change from 2019
— 290.3% change from 2012

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Canva

#8. Regent University

Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 6,989
— 198.2% more than in 2019
— 362.8% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 2,260
— 12.7% change from 2019
— 82.0% change from 2012

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Canva

#7. Bethany College

Located in Lindsborg, Kansas
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 3,521
— 202.8% more than in 2019
— 420.9% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 2,325
— 195.4% change from 2019
— 491.6% change from 2012

Canva

Canva

#6. Paul Quinn College

Located in Dallas
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 2,048
— 207.0% more than in 2019
— 857.0% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 1,173
— 122.2% change from 2019
— 541.0% change from 2012

Kurtis Toliver // Shutterstock

Kurtis Toliver // Shutterstock

#5. Grambling State University

Located in Grambling, Louisiana
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 10,732
— 245.2% more than in 2019
— 108.2% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 4,547
— 50.4% change from 2019
— 109.5% change from 2012

Tada Images // Shutterstock

Tada Images // Shutterstock

#4. Oregon Institute of Technology

Located in Klamath Falls, Oregon
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 4,570
— 278.9% more than in 2019
— 364.4% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 4,231
— 261.3% change from 2019
— 570.5% change from 2012

Canva

Canva

#3. Palm Beach Atlantic University

Located in West Palm Beach, Florida
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 6,220
— 305.5% more than in 2019
— 350.4% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 5,888
— 302.2% change from 2019
— 345.0% change from 2012

Canva

Canva

#2. Unity College

Located in New Gloucester, Maine
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 6,312
— 542.1% more than in 2019
— 1,470.1% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 5,953
— 516.3% change from 2019
— 1,586.4% change from 2012

Ground Picture // Shutterstock

Ground Picture // Shutterstock

#1. Stanbridge University

Located in Irvine, California
-Total applicants in the 2022-23 school year: 2,500
— 1,090.5% more than in 2019
— 733.3% change from 2012
– Students admitted in the 2022-23 school year: 253
— 90.2% change from 2019
— -1.9% change from 2012

Story editing by Nicole Caldwell. Copy editing by Paris Close. Photo selection by Lacy Kerrick.

This story originally appeared on Numerade and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

Stacker
Written By

Founded in 2017, Stacker combines data analysis with rich editorial context, drawing on authoritative sources and subject matter experts to drive storytelling.

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