The economic crisis is forcing more students to forgo their “dream schools” this year and settle for less-expensive college options, according to a nationwide survey of high schools released last week.
“With the exception of one or two students, it was THE determining factor in their decision,” one high school official wrote. Said another: “Parents were willing to pay for prestige in the past. This year they wanted prestigious schools IF the financial-aid packages would work for them.”
The survey was conducted by the Arlington, Va.-based National Association for College Admission Counseling, made up of high school and college-admissions and financial-aid professionals. This is the first time the organization set out to study students’ picks in light of the economic downturn.
Of the 632 high schools that responded to the survey, 61 percent said more students were giving up their dream schools, 60 percent said they were seeing more students enroll in less-expensive public instead of private universities, and 37 percent had seen an increase in students entering two-year schools.
Economic difficulties were not, however, preventing students from enrolling in college altogether. Nearly 85 percent of the high schools surveyed reported no change in the number of students planning to delay their higher education.
The survey, however, had a disproportionate number of private and better-off public high schools, said David Hawkins, the admission association’s director of public policy and research. That means the findings probably understate the number of students forgoing their dream schools or postponing college altogether.
A version of this article appeared in the June 17, 2009 edition of Education Week