The surprising way people choose which college to attend

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As college enrollment continues to plummet, gap years are becoming less and less of a radical consideration. There are so many provisional factors that inform the university that we covet in our senior year of high school; the person that we’re dating that we likely won’t be by the time we finish our first semester, the biased recommendation of a mentor or parent, our youthful appetite for misadventures, and a healthy quantity of concessions governed by academic burnout.

Despite dwindling applicants, Americans, by and large, still believe college to be a worthwhile experience though one admittedly punctuated by years of debt and underemployment. With these factors and consequences in mind, Lawnstarter conducted a national survey, exploring where young students are going and why.

Dreams, distance, and debt

While 70% of students got into their first choice,  of the 30% that did not, 93% occasioned a lack of funds. Tuition costs are at an all-time high; since 1988, the average cost to attend University has risen 218%. Only a little under one and five respondents featured in LawnStarter’s survey reported the luxury to attend any college of their choice without the aid of scholarships and just about half of the students queried nixed the possibility of certain institutions because of tuition costs, irrespective of their professional interests.

“Paying for college isn’t easy, and students graduating with mountains of debt has become the norm — especially in the US. America ranks second only to England for having the most expensive tuitions in the world. The countries lower on that list don’t fare much better.”

Nevertheless, any practiced mind would caution against the first school/safety school system. High School seniors are defined by a certain angsty irresolution for a start. Not that our interest should ever be received as gospel at any age, but it’s not surprising that 46% of the young freshman that followed their “unintended” to college, ended up transferring schools, presumably after a breakup.

Thankfully,  love doesn’t even crack the Top 15 reasons that animate university choices Though, on the topic of transferring, participants that toured their campus before enrollment was more than 10% more likely to graduate compared to those that did not (76% vs 65%.) Instances of transfer, like most of the inquiries, posed to Lawnstarter’s survey crop, were attended by focus and hesitation to enter commitments that would be regretted later in life.

In fact, the most consistently cited reason that freshmen ended up going to the school that they did, was the college’s academic reputation-40% reasoned this way, following, several leagues behind were campus aesthetics (14.83%) and family influence (14.68%).

“A constant theme we saw throughout our research was just how much of a burden the cost of higher education is. And while it’s true that not all academic programs are created equal, it’s easy to see how this can be a challenge for students who may have a lot of potential. Scholarships are one of the best ways to offset these costs. This is why Lawnstarter offers its scholarship. Students who are interested in starting their businesses and creating jobs are encouraged to apply.”