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What about the 2019 Princeton Review's Dream College survey surprises you?

websensationwebsensation 2081 replies38 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
edited August 15 in Parents Forum
What surprised me was that both students and parents named Princeton University as the 3rd most preferred choice of college if the acceptance and costs were not factors. Of course, I know Princeton U. is an awesome college but why not Yale? Also, why NYU but not Columbia University? I guess UCLA is way more popular than Berkeley. How come Duke isn't mentioned even though it gets a lot of coverage due to college basketball? I am also slightly surprised that both students and parents preferred Stanford over Harvard, given that Harvard still carries the biggest brand name. Lastly, the fact that Cornell was the 6th most preferred choice for parents (but not by students).

Top 10 "Dream Colleges" of Students and of Parents

Answers to the survey's one fill-in-the-blank question, "What 'dream college' do you wish you or your child could attend if acceptance and cost weren't issues?” ranged widely: hundreds of school names were penned in.

The schools students most named as their "dream college" in the order of the preferences were:

Stanford University
Harvard College
Princeton University
New York University
University of California—Los Angeles
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Columbia University
University of Pennsylvania
Yale University
University of Michigan—Ann Arbor

The schools parents most named as their "dream college" for their children were:

Stanford University
Harvard College
Princeton University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
New York University
Cornell University
University of California—Los Angeles
University of Michigan—Ann Arbor
Yale University
University of Notre Dame

Source: See: https://www.princetonreview.com/press/college-hopes-worries-press-release
edited August 15
16 replies
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Replies to: What about the 2019 Princeton Review's Dream College survey surprises you?

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77683 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    NYU probably gains popularity from its location which its name clearly says and is now attractive (unlike in the 1980s).
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  • TheodenTheoden 170 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited August 15
    @ubcalumnus Yes, since the 80's NYU's reputation has improved. Apparently through aggressive fundraising, it's a now top choice school.

    Here's the 1995 NYTimes story: https://www.nytimes.com/1995/03/20/us/buying-excellence-nyu-rebuilt-itself-special-report-decade-1-billion-put-nyu.html

    In the 50's and 60's NYU was where you went if you weren't smart enough to get into City College or Brooklyn College (known as the poor man's Ivies in the city). Plus CUNY's were free. Then, apparently when the CUNY's changed their admission policies and instituted open enrollment in 1969 (lowering their admissions standards) it may have pulled even more students away, since they were still free for a while, but always the cheapest option in NYC when they stated charging tuition. As the article suggests in 80's, NYU was a safety school for many of us in NYC as were all the CUNY's.

    I also imagine NYU's growing prestige really signaled, and eventually fed off of NYC's "rebirth" as a desirable city to live in in the mid to late 90's.


    edited August 15
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77683 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Theoden wrote: »
    I also imagine NYU's growing prestige really signaled, and eventually fed off of NYC's "rebirth" as a desirable city to live in in the mid to late 90's.

    Yes, during the 1980s, NYC = crime in the minds of many. Not so much any more.
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  • bclintonkbclintonk 7678 replies31 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I wouldn't put too much credence in these lists, but they're interesting nonetheless. Pleased to see my alma mater, Michigan, on both lists, beating out 3 Ivies with the students (Cornell, Dartmouth, and Brown) and 4 with the parents (Columbia, Penn, Dartmouth and Brown), as well as many other very good private institutions (Chicago, Duke, JHU, Northwestern to name a few).

    It's also interesting that the students' list includes both Columbia and Penn but not Cornell, while the parents' list includes Cornell but neither Columbia nor Penn. It's not only New York City that's hot with young people, but also big cities in general. And it's rather surprising to me that the parents' list includes NYU (suggesting they have no problem sending their kids to NYC), but not Columbia. Though I suppose this could in part reflect NYU's prominence in some popular programs like Tisch (performing arts) and Stern (for undergraduate business) that Columbia can't match.

    Notre Dame also makes the parents' list but not the students'. Different attitudes toward religion? Location? Other factors?
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  • websensationwebsensation 2081 replies38 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I am surprised that Duke is not on either list. I thought Duke was very popular with students especially who liked to watch basketball and get good education?
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  • warblersrulewarblersrule 9997 replies170 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    edited August 15
    What about the 2019 Princeton Review's Dream College survey surprises you?
    I'm mildly surprised Chicago didn't make the cut. Is it possible for a college to be more aggressive with its marketing? It still struggles with name recognition, I suppose.
    I thought Duke was very popular with students especially who liked to watch basketball and get good education?
    Duke was a very hot school in the early 2000s, but the admissions office has been content to rest on its laurels for too long. Additionally, urban schools have become very popular with college applicants, and Duke's location is not attractive to many, especially compared to other southern schools like Vandy and Rice. Finally, it's perhaps worth noting that Duke's most popular programs have long been public policy, economics, and BME and biology; the declining interest in finance/econ among top students in favor of hot fields like CS has not worked in Duke's favor. (Brown has seen a 17% decline in econ majors and a 310% increase in CS majors over the past decade.)

    I wonder why PR refers to Harvard College but not to the undergraduate colleges at the other universities.
    edited August 15
    Post edited by warblersrule on
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  • bclintonkbclintonk 7678 replies31 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 16
    I am surprised that Duke is not on either list.
    I'm mildly surprised Chicago didn't make the cut.
    Both schools would land in the top 5 or top 10 for many students, but not "Dream School" for nearly as many. Predictably, HYPSM make both lists, as they're widely perceived as being a cut above. After that, the lists include more Ivies; NYU for reasons discussed above; two very strong state schools with strong national profiles and near-universal name recognition; and Notre Dame for the parents. Doesn't really surprise me.

    I also think Duke and Chicago have somewhat more limited regional appeal, Duke in the mid-Atlantic and coastal Southeast, Chicago in the Northeast and Midwest. Everyone knows about Duke basketball, but they're more hated than loved in most parts of the country---including much of North Carolina, for that matter.
    edited August 16
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  • PublisherPublisher 7721 replies80 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 16
    Both Top Ten lists seem reasonable to me. Maybe the discussion should focus on which colleges or universities would or should be #11, #12, #13, #14 & #15.
    edited August 16
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  • sushirittosushiritto 3843 replies9 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Besides NYU, UMich's Top 10 popularity seems a little surprising to me, considering all the schools it had to jump in front of.
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  • bclintonkbclintonk 7678 replies31 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Besides NYU, UMich's Top 10 popularity seems a little surprising to me, considering all the schools it had to jump in front of.
    "Jump in front of" only if you're measuring by the US News rankings. In most other rankings, Michigan comes out ahead of schools like Duke and Chicago. Michigan gets nearly 60,000 undergraduate applications a year, roughly 50,000 of them from out-of-state students--far more than schools like Duke and Chicago. And it's had strong national name recognition and a reputation for excellence for a very long time, more so than schools like Duke and Chicago. It's only people who adhere to the US News rankings who think it's as far down in the pack as US News places it, and they're a smallish minority of students and parents.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2373 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    It's only people who adhere to the US News rankings who think it's as far down in the pack as US News places it, and they're a smallish minority of students and parents.

    Well this where the dichotomy of the US News rankings comes in for a school like Michigan. Even though UM has been in the mid-20s for a while, it's engineering and comp sci programs are ranked top-10 by US News so that drives a lot of applications since students and parents put more emphasis on the rankings of a dept or major. Also GCs love Michigan and know it's strong across the board (e.g. econ, literature, in addition to STEM) so it's a popular choice.
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  • wis75wis75 14004 replies62 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 17
    Every person is different. Our gifted kid wouldn't even look at the Harvard campus while in Boston on his east coast trip and bypassed Yale, plus would not finish the Princeton application. Of course, coming from Wisconsin, Michigan was never on the radar ( no reason to look across the lake at a school similar to our own flagship). I wonder where the survey participants are from. Likely heavily northeast. I can see why kids would go for Michigan- they've heard of it and it is not in their region but not too far.
    edited August 17
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  • warblersrulewarblersrule 9997 replies170 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    edited August 17
    I guess UCLA is way more popular than Berkeley.
    I meant to bring up UCLA in my earlier post. It's probably a mix of the romanticized image people have of LA, SoCal weather, and UCLA's reputation for having a better academic/social life balance than Berkeley or UCSD. It doesn't surprise me that UCLA made both lists, but it does signal that most parents and kids aren't that familiar with what these schools are like on a day-to-day basis.

    There's no doubt that UCLA is an academic powerhouse, but it's a little TOO popular. The university is growing by the day with an increasingly cramped campus (largest UC by enrollment, smallest by campus size). UCLA has been continuously renovating classrooms over the past couple of years to add more seats to match rising enrollment, and I've had lecture classes where a few students wound up sitting on the floor/auditorium steps. There's also been a problem with finding enough TAs for popular fields like biology and CS; some departments are admitting more graduate students (more than they should, arguably) to meet teaching needs, while others are reaching out to related departments to recruit TAs.
    edited August 17
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  • PublisherPublisher 7721 replies80 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 17
    If I had to express surprise, it would only be in reference to the "parents' list of dream colleges for their children".

    Although understandable as "dream schools", I find Cornell & Notre Dame each to be a bit of an unexpected surprise on the list.

    Notre Dame due to its religious connection & Cornell because Columbia & Penn--especially Wharton--and Georgetown and Duke were bypassed.

    As a Catholic, it is easy for me to understand Notre Dame as a "Dream School", but it makes me question the randomness of the survey participants.

    Again, not really surprised, just trying to participate in the theme of the thread.

    P.S. If I had to construct a list of dream schools as a parent, it would include Georgetown's School of Foreign Service, Northwestern University, Harvard, & Michigan & Claremont McKenna College as my top five. The remaining five of the ten schools--subject to change on a daily basis--might include Duke, Vanderbilt, UNC, Virginia & Pomona.

    When we started the college search process many years ago, Dartmouth College, Middlebury College & Davidson College would have made the list.

    Most importantly, however, was our child's list of dream schools which was limited to two universities--both of which he attended & grauated from one.
    edited August 17
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  • PublisherPublisher 7721 replies80 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 17
    Also, although not really a surprise due to lack of name recognition, I suspect that those with a great deal of knowledge of all colleges & universities would have listed Williams College & Bowdoin College as among their top ten dream schools for their children. Why ? Because in addition to outstanding academics & great facilities & small class sizes, a feeling of coziness & protection probably best summed up by an elite New England prep boarding school head's comment: "Because he's one of ours".
    edited August 17
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  • bclintonkbclintonk 7678 replies31 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 17
    Even though UM has been in the mid-20s for a while, it's engineering and comp sci programs are ranked top-10 by US News so that drives a lot of applications since students and parents put more emphasis on the rankings of a dept or major.
    Michigan is also ranked #4 for undergraduate business, another popular program these days.
    wis75 wrote:
    Of course, coming from Wisconsin, Michigan was never on the radar ( no reason to look across the lake at a school similar to our own flagship).
    It's true that Michigan gets very few students from Wisconsin. My daughter saw it differently. I encouraged her to apply to UW-Madison where as a Minnesota resident she'd pay in-state tuition due to tuition reciprocity, but she had no interest. Michigan, on the other hand, was pretty high on her list. She thought there was a real difference in academic quality. That's hard to measure, of course, but Michigan does have more top 5 and top 10 programs; that said, Wisconsin is no slouch in that regard. Most obvious difference is entering class stats where Michigan clearly has the edge.
    I wonder where the survey participants are from. Likely heavily northeast. I can see why kids would go for Michigan- they've heard of it and it is not in their region but not too far.
    I don't think many drive from the East Coast---they think it's too far, even though the driving time from DC to Ann Arbor is about the same as from some parts of Michigan. But Ann Arbor is conveniently located 20 minutes from Detroit Metro Airport with non-stop flights to pretty much every major market in the country---makes a big difference if you're trying to get home and back for Thanksgiving. And while Michigan does draw many students from the Northeast, it draws roughly as many from California as from New York, with Illinois a strong third.
    edited August 17
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