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Does March Madness Performance Drive College Application Rates?

Read more from a story published by Forbes

Key Takeaways

Many schools see a rise in applications after participating in the NCAA Tournament, as evidenced by the following statistics.

  • After participating in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, Final Four and National Champion rounds saw increases in their average year-over-year application rates. Increases ranged from 7% to more than 11%.
  • After winning the NCAA Tournament in 2016, Villanova University had a 22.3% increase in applicants for the 2017–18 school year.
  • While national college application rates fell by 1.29% between 2017 and 2020, Division I schools—the only division represented in March Madness—saw a 3.78% increase in applications during the same period.
  • Between the 2021–22 and 2022–23 academic years, 2021 Elite Eight schools saw an average application rate increase of 8.3% after appearing in March Madness.
  • Year-over-year application rates for 2021 Final Four and Finalist schools increased by an average of 7.67% and 11.53%, respectively, after competing in March Madness.

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David Keech is a retired teacher and works as a sportswriter, sports official and as an educational consultant. He has reported on amateur sports since 2011, known as ‘KeechDaVoice.’ David can be reached at