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Survey Reveals Key Insights Into Today’s College Admissions Landscape

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AcceptU's recent national survey of more than 400 high school students and parents provides 10 key takeaways on what matters to college applicants today and how they – and their families – are approaching the admissions process at a time of significant change

At a time of significant change in higher education, gaining insight into the mindset, attitudes and perspectives of today’s college applicants is crucial. How are they approaching the admissions process? What matters to them (and their parents)? What are their priorities, concerns and opinions – and how is that shaping their college decisions? 

The Parent & Student College Admissions Survey, conducted nationally in December 2023 by AcceptU, a leading college consulting firm, provides insights into these questions – and more. With more than 400 high school parents and students participating, the survey captures a diverse range of viewpoints on key issues, such as affordability, diversity, mental health and college choice. 

Our findings reveal a complex and multifaceted picture of the current college admissions playing landscape, offering a glimpse into the trends that may redefine the future of higher education – for both students and universities. We have distilled responses into 10 key takeaways, each offering unique insights and implications for applicants, parents and academic institutions. 

  1. Half of applicants want to ban legacy admission; one-third support affirmative action 
  2. Families are divided on the impact of political and social issues on college choice 
  3. COVID-19 no longer impacts college planning for the majority of families 
  4. Eighty percent of students cite cost as the dominant factor influencing their college decisions 
  5. Students are stressed about the college process and the majority say their parents are the cause 
  6. Parents are deeply involved – and many say it’s because schools are falling short 
  7. College rankings still matter a lot and one-third of applicants will apply to 20+ colleges 
  8. Applicants are taking a pragmatic approach, prioritizing academics, cost and career 
  9. Career prospects drive major choice and indicate a paradox for non-STEM majors 
  10. Twenty-five percent of students are opting for test-optional; many are skeptical of testing efficacy 

"Our recent survey illuminates the evolving dynamics in college admissions, offering invaluable insights directly from families navigating this complex journey," said Marc Zawel, CEO of AcceptU. "The diverse responses not only open a window into today's applicant priorities and concerns but also highlight evolving trends."

"The insights from our survey highlight a transformative period in college admissions," said Stephen Friedfeld, COO of AcceptU. "We're seeing a paradigm shift in applicant behavior, priorities and strategies, fundamentally altering the landscape for students, parents and educational institutions alike."

AcceptU is the #1 rated college consulting group. Its team, composed entirely of former college admissions officers, advises families on all aspects of the college planning process, enabling students to stand out and realize their full potential. Since 2010, AcceptU has supported nearly 7,000 applicants in the process; more than 90% are admitted to one, or more, of their top three choices. 


Contact Information:
Stephen Friedfeld
[email protected]

Marc Zawel
[email protected]
Related Files
AcceptU Parent and Student College Admissions Survey Winter 2023.pdf

Original Source: Survey Reveals Key Insights Into Today’s College Admissions Landscape
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