Overview: The Common Data Set is published by most U.S. colleges and universities and provides the data used by most college information websites to provide Cost of Attendance information and for estimating a student’s chances of being offered admission. A college’s Common Data Set provides insight into the type of students who are admitted and emphasis a college places on each component of their admissions decision, e.g., GPA, test scores, essays, extracurricular activities, diversity, etc. A careful review of a college’s Common Data Set can provide important insight into how you may develop a comprehensive college-bound plan aligned with the type of attributes the colleges on your College List valued in their applicants. Knowing the areas considered, “Very Important” to a college will guide you in setting goals, developing your academic schedule, engaging in leadership, and determining how much time you should commit to SAT or ACT exam preparation. The following page provides an example of the stark differences between the University of Texas - Austin and Rice University in the areas deemed ‘Very Important’ in making their admissions decisions.