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The Critical Gap Between Students’ First and Second-Choice Colleges - Student Research Foundation

The Critical Gap Between Students’ First and Second-Choice Colleges

When students have been accepted to colleges and have selected the college they will attend, they are focused entirely on their top pick – the college they are committed to and hope to call their home for four years.

The thing is, there is a number-two choice too. It is the college that didn’t quite make the cut. The thinking that differentiated the number-one from the number-two is interesting. While those top two colleges are adjacent on the student’s final list of desirable colleges, there is a vast difference between them. A binary decision has been made; the student will attend just the first choice, and not the second. So in a very real sense, the fact that a school made it into second place on a student’s list has no meaning at all. Because the student will not be going there, that school might just as well have not made the student’s list at all.

Differentiators between Students’ First and Second Choice Colleges

In 2017, Eduventures conducted a survey of more than 90,000 American students. Among other things, the survey explored how students view the differences between their number-one and number-two college choices.

The differences are fascinating.

  • Regarding the quality of core academics, 95% of students rated their number-one college choice as good or excellent; only 78% of those students rated their number-two choice as good or excellent in this area.
  • Regarding the quality of career preparation, 93% of students rated their number-one college choice as good or excellent; only 80% rated their number-two choice as good or excellent in this area.
  • Regarding the quality of the school’s social environment, 90% of students rated their number-one college choice as good or excellent; only 75% rated their number-two choice as good or excellent in this area.
  • Regarding the quality of the school’s physical environment, 89% of students rated their number-one college choice as good or excellent; only 72% rated their number-two choice as good or excellent in this area.
  • Regarding affordability, 61% of students rated their number-one college choice as good or excellent; only 50% rated their number-two choice as good or excellent in this area.

What these Findings Mean for College Counselors

The findings imply that students overrate the virtues of their first-choice colleges and underrate the virtues of their second choices. Perhaps that is a natural thing for students to do. After all, they tend to frame their decision as the better choice between two colleges that were, in all likelihood, competitive in many ways.

But since your job as a college counselor is to help students make the wisest college choice they can, it could be helpful to ask students whether they have made a fair and realistic comparison of their first and second-choice colleges in the areas that the Eduventures survey exposed. How do their top two choices really compare in academic quality, career preparation, social and physical environments, and cost?  Given those considerations, are your counselees certain they have made the wisest choice between the two?

And what about cost? The survey indicates that students generally see both their first and second-choice schools as expensive. That shows that in the area of cost, students and their families are being realistic. It also explains why many college picks are made after students learn about the financial aid they will receive.

To Learn More about How Students Pick Colleges

We invite all students to explore their career options by participating in our career and college studies. Students who complete the free career test for high school students will receive information on college and career opportunities which match their interests.

How Moms and Dads Can Help their Kids Discover the Right Career Options - Student Research Foundation

How Moms and Dads Can Help their Kids Discover the Right Career Options

Thoughts for Mother’s Day 2019 . . .

Happy Mother’s Day! All of us at the Student Research Foundation want to express our appreciation for the critical role that mothers – and fathers – play in shaping their children’s career choices.

But what kind of influence can parents really have on the way their high school-aged children are thinking about careers? It turns out, a great deal, as research conducted by the Student Research Foundation has found. Read more

Job Satisfaction, Humanities Graduates Are Nearly on a Par with Engineering Graduates - Student Research Foundation

In Success and Job Satisfaction, Humanities Graduates Are Nearly on a Par with Engineering Graduates

Do you know any educators who are advising future college students to focus on engineering and technical fields, and to stay away from the arts and the humanities? Read more

Talk to Your High School Students about Completing College - Student Research Foundation

Talk to Your High School Students about Completing College

. . . Not Only about Getting In

What is the purpose of attending high school?

There are many possible answers to that question. People go to high school to learn, to define their interests and career paths, to take part in sports and extracurricular activities . . . and even to spend four years having fun, making friends, and building memories.

Yes, students attend high school for those reasons. But in recent years, one reason for attending high school has begun to outweigh all the others . . . Read more

The Great Robotics Switcheroo - Student Research Foundation

The Great Robotics Switcheroo

Ah, robotics!

Few areas of CTE training and education are so full of romance. When you say the word “robot,” students start to think about anthropomorphic robots that walk around in sci-fi movies. They think about battle robots that fight each other on cool television shows. Or they think about teaming up with fellow students to enter a robotics competition by designing a robot that will walk around on Mars, perform surgery on patients in operating rooms, or enter a building and defuse a bomb. Read more

Research study on High School students who want to major in Computer Science in college - Student Research Foundation

Research on Students Who Plan to Study Computer Science in College

Students Who Plan to Study Computer Science in College Still Need Lots of Career Advice

The Student Research Foundation asked 267,363 American high school students about their career plans. Of those students, 33,535 expressed interest in computer careers.

That sounds about right, doesn’t it? But the study also uncovered something that borders on the shocking . . . Read more

Cyber Security Jobs - Explore your career options at Student Research Foundation

Why Business Ethics Should Be Part of Your Cybersecurity Course Plan

Are You Teaching a Course on Cybersecurity?

With more and more American colleges offering courses about cybercrime and letting students major in the subject, you would think that American businesses will soon be able to protect their systems and data with ironclad reliability. Read more

Interested in Engineering Try Out These Free Online Courses - Student Research Foundation

Career Opportunities Abound in Engineering

PayScale’s Salary Report Shows Earning Potential for Engineering Careers

When you start to look at Best Schools for Engineering Majors by Salary Potential, a report from PayScale, the first thing you are apt to think is, “Boy, an awful lot of American colleges and universities offer engineering degrees today.” And a lot of them do. The PayScale report, in fact, offers salary data for graduates of no fewer than 409 American institutions that offer undergraduate engineering degrees. Read more

Stalling on College Applications? These Tactics Should Help - Student Research Foundation

Is Your Son or Daughter Stalling on College Applications? These Tactics Should Help

It’s time for high school seniors to start thinking about their college applications. It will soon be time to get organized about visiting campuses, filling out applications, writing college essays, and lots more.

Read more

Online Career Tests for High School Students - Student Research Foundation

Three Online Career Tests for High School Students

Why should high school students take a career-preference test when many aren’t even thinking about their college majors yet? Because the perspective the quizzes give can give valuable direction before high schoolers start their college years. Read more