High-achieving Teens Choose College Based on Quality of Specific Majors

High-achieving Teens Choose College Based on Quality of Specific Majors


      High-achieving college bound seniors aren’t looking at college rankings, institutional reputation nor parental advice when choosing a college. They are likely to choose a college that offers an outstanding academic program in their area of interest, according to a new report issued today by Lipman Hearne, a marketing and communications firm serving the higher education sector. Financial assistance from the school is also a key factor.

      “High-ability students are choosing a college like a doctorial candidate would pick a Ph.D. program, or a professor would choose where to teach,” says Thomas Abrahamson, an enrollment marketing specialist and managing director of Lipman Hearne. “What is driving the decision are strengths of academic programs in the department and star faculty, particularly if they are going far away from home. These trump the general college experience.”

      The study is based on a survey of graduating high school seniors conducted last spring by Lipman Hearne. The 600 students interviews were all “high ability,” scoring between 1150 and 1600 on the SAT and above 25 on the ACT, and received multiple college acceptances.

      U.S. News & World Report and other rankings were near the bottom of 16 factors that played a role in the enrollment decision. Students with SAT scores about 1300 were more likely to attend private college and be less influenced by their parents. Top factors that influence college application decisions were the presence of an academically rigorous environment and strong reputation in a specific major.

      Students of color placed a higher value on a college offering diverse perspectives, having comfort in knowing others when they got to campus and being thought of as one of the brightest students.

      Half of all students said “significant financial assistance from the school” was very important.

— Diverse staff

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