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Six degrees? A look at college life by the numbers

Dorms and campus quads filled up in recent weeks as students returned to school. Newly-arriving freshmen realize that much of the college application process is about staying on top of the numbers — whether they're SAT scores or the acceptance rate of that dream school. But that's just the start. Then comes the tuition bill and paying off student loan debt.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Dorms and campus quads filled up in recent weeks as students returned to school. Newly-arriving freshmen realize that much of the college application process is about staying on top of the numbers — whether they're SAT scores or the acceptance rate of that dream school. But that's just the start. Then comes the tuition bill and paying off student loan debt.

So what's the reality? Just how many students get into Harvard? And how much of a bargain is in-state tuition vs. attending a private liberal arts college? The Associated Press breaks down these and other college statistics, by the numbers:

7 out of 100: Harvard College admitted 2,205 applicants, or 7 percent, of the 30,489 high school students who applied for the freshman class starting this fall.

35 hours: A third of college students worked full-time, 35 hours or more a week, in the 2007-08 school year while they attended classes at least on a part-time basis.

2 out of 5: Some 40 percent of college students lived at home last year to reduce education costs.

4 or more: Half of college students had at least this many credit cards with an average total balance of $3,173 in 2008.

$11,528: The amount in-state students at public, four-year schools saved on tuition and housing last year. Their bill of $15,213 was surpassed by the $26,741 paid by out-of-state students.

More than double: Privacy is pricey. Students at four-year private schools shelled out $35,636 last year for tuition and housing, more than double what in-state students at public schools paid.

50,000+ :The five schools with the highest enrollment in 2007 were the for-profit University of Phoenix, online campus (224,880); Miami-Dade College(54,094); Ohio State University (52,568); University of Florida (51,725); and Arizona State University, Tempe campus (51,481).

Younger than 7: 80 percent of parents started saving for college before their child turned 7 years old.

3.6 percent: Parents who sock away money for college save an average of $2,676 each year, or 3.6 percent of their annual income.

$21,900: — Four-year college graduates earned nearly 40 percent more in 2008 than those with just a high school diploma ($55,700 vs. $33,800).

4 out of 5: Whether petroleum or chemical, engineering majors claimed 4 of the top 5 slots for top-earning bachelor's degrees for the Class of 2010 — with computer science occupying the No. 3 spot.

Top 4: The most popular majors in 2008 were business (335,000 students), social sciences and history (167,000 students), health sciences (111,000 students) and education (103,000 students).

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Sources: Harvard College, National Center for Education Statistics, Sallie Mae, The College Board, National Association of Colleges and Employers, U.S. Department of Education.