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How US Students Decide Where to Enroll in College

decision road sign

Ever wondered what really influences seniors and how they choose where to go to college?  The National Research Center for College & University Admissions just presented their annual findings from the Eduventures Survey of Admitted Students.  Each year, 100,000 US students are surveyed to reveal how students really decide what school they will attend in the fall.  And while this study is intended to help colleges and universities with their yield (meaning how many of the students they accepted will actually enroll), this information is also useful for anyone who is working with students, including parents and educators.
For high school seniors, the most important factor in making their final decision, in descending order, were:

  1. Affordability of the school
  2. The school has the desired academic program
  3. The school’s reputation and perceived academic quality
  4. Perceived career outcomes and future job opportunities
  5. Value of the education in relation to the cost of attending
  6. A feeling of fit – does it feel like the right place for me?
  7. Proximity to home

What really caught my attention with this list are reasons 2 – 4. This reinforces my strong belief in mentoring students in the art of researching colleges.  If students can be well-informed consumers, knowing about the programs, departments, faculty and post-graduation prospects of the schools they apply to, then they show that they will use this knowledge to make informed choices.
Even better news?  A school’s social life came in at the bottom of the list as a deciding factor.  Students can and should think about their social life, but it should just be put it in the proper perspective.
Karen Aylward
Educational Consultant


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