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.

Dom DiFurio
Posted

A student filling out a college application.

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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.

#50. Bethune-Cookman University

James R. Martin // Shutterstock

James R. Martin // Shutterstock

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

#49. Clemson University

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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

#48. Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

Wirestock Creators // Shutterstock

Wirestock Creators // Shutterstock

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

#47. The University of Montana

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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

#46. Schreiner University

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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

#45. Indiana State University

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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

#44. University of Michigan-Dearborn

Susan Montgomery // Shutterstock

Susan Montgomery // Shutterstock

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

#43. College of Charleston

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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

#42. The College of Idaho

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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

#41. Caldwell University

quiggyt4 // Shutterstock

quiggyt4 // Shutterstock

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

#40. Grace College and Theological Seminary

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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

#39. Champlain College

John Arehart // Shutterstock

John Arehart // Shutterstock

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

#38. University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Joe Koshollek/NCAA Photos // Getty Images

Joe Koshollek/NCAA Photos // Getty Images

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

#37. University of Wisconsin-Stout

Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

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

#36. University of South Alabama

Chad Robertson Media // Shutterstock

Chad Robertson Media // Shutterstock

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

#35. California Institute of Technology

Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

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

#34. University of Wisconsin-Superior

Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

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

#33. Arizona State University Campus Immersion

University of College // Shutterstock

University of College // Shutterstock

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

#32. Northwest Nazarene University

Scott Taetsch/NCAA Photos // Getty Images

Scott Taetsch/NCAA Photos // Getty Images

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

#31. Fort Valley State University

Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post // Getty Images

Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post // Getty Images

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

#30. Morgan State University

Anna Moneymaker // Getty Images

Anna Moneymaker // Getty Images

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

#29. Bennington College

denton.loving // Shutterstock

denton.loving // Shutterstock

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

#28. Colgate University

James Aloysius Mahan V // Shutterstock

James Aloysius Mahan V // Shutterstock

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

#27. D'Youville University

Spiroview Inc // Shutterstock

Spiroview Inc // Shutterstock

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

#26. University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Rosemarie Mosteller // Shutterstock

Rosemarie Mosteller // Shutterstock

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

#25. Anderson University

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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

#24. Auburn University

Rob Hainer // Shutterstock

Rob Hainer // Shutterstock

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

#23. Bethany College

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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

#22. Lewis-Clark State College

Education Images/Universal Images Group // Getty Images

Education Images/Universal Images Group // Getty Images

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

#21. Ave Maria University

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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

#20. Chicago State University

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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

#19. Fisk University

KennStilger47 // Shutterstock

KennStilger47 // Shutterstock

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

#18. Clarke University

PiXel Perfect PiX // Shutterstock

PiXel Perfect PiX // Shutterstock

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

#17. Converse University

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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

#16. Morehouse College

Erik S. Lesser // Getty Images

Erik S. Lesser // Getty Images

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

#15. South Carolina State University

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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

#14. Westminster College

CrispyPork // Shutterstock

CrispyPork // Shutterstock

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

#13. Edward Waters University

Sean Rayford // Getty Images

Sean Rayford // Getty Images

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

#12. Dallas Baptist University

Philip Lange // Shutterstock

Philip Lange // Shutterstock

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

#11. La Roche University

Matej Kastelic // Shutterstock

Matej Kastelic // Shutterstock

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

#10. Columbia College

Matej Kastelic // Shutterstock

Matej Kastelic // Shutterstock

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

#9. Hawai'i Pacific University

Theodore Trimmer // Shutterstock

Theodore Trimmer // Shutterstock

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

#8. Regent University

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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

#7. Bethany College

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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

#6. Paul Quinn College

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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

#5. Grambling State University

Kurtis Toliver // Shutterstock

Kurtis Toliver // Shutterstock

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

#4. Oregon Institute of Technology

Tada Images // Shutterstock

Tada Images // Shutterstock

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

#3. Palm Beach Atlantic University

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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

#2. Unity College

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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

#1. Stanbridge University

Ground Picture // Shutterstock

Ground Picture // Shutterstock

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.

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