Students Selecting A College Increasingly Consider Long-Term Job Prospects, Debt

By Gail MarksJarvis
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Since 2003, the Princeton Review has surveyed college applicants and their parents about the stress associated with the admission process and getting financial offers from colleges. In 2003, with jobs plentiful and few people asking “Is college worth it?” only 56 percent of students and their parents said their stress was high. This year, 76 percent said they were worried about the financial aspects of college.

Chicago Tribune

It had to come to this.

For years, high school seniors hoping to go to college in the fall fixated on getting into their dream college. But that’s changed. Students still are thinking about their campus visits and hoping to immerse themselves in a college culture that seems to best fit who they are. But in an era marked by job insecurity and student loan worries, concerns about keeping debt down and finding a decent job after graduation have turned the longing for the dream school into a secondary issue.

Since 2003, the Princeton Review has surveyed college applicants and their parents about the stress associated with the admission process and getting financial offers from colleges.

In 2003, with jobs plentiful and few people asking “Is college worth it?” only 56 percent of students and their parents said their stress was high. This year, 76 percent said they were worried about the financial aspects of college.

About 98 percent said this year that financial aid will be necessary to pay for college. Some 65 percent deemed aid as “extremely necessary.”

Both students and their parents are focused on what happens after the college years. In a departure from the pre-recession period, 42 percent said this year that the main benefit of college is to get a better job and income.

Much to the disappointment of educators, who want to tout the value of education for its own sake, fewer families think they can afford college for its intrinsic value alone. Only 33 percent say the main benefit of college is “exposure to new ideas” and 26 percent ranked “education” as the main objective.

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