The Number One ‘Dream School’ For College Applicants

Stanford University

Stanford University is considered the top ‘dream school,’ according to a survey of more than 14,000 college applicants and parents.

The Princeton Review asked 10,398 students and 3,750 parents across 50 states about their dream schools and their biggest college admission and financial aid challenges. Among the list of dream schools are institutions such as Harvard, MIT, and New York University.


Cost is considered the number one concern when it comes to higher education. 69% of respondents estimated that their college costs will be more than $75,000.

A Georgetown University report found that college costs have increased by 169% since 1980, but earnings for workers between the ages of 22 and 27 have only increased 19%. That reality is due to a disjointed policy for youth that experts say has failed young people.

“Postsecondary education policy has failed to keep higher education affordable even as formal education beyond high school has become more essential,” the Georgetown report states. “Today, two out of three jobs require postsecondary education and training, while three out of four jobs in the 1970s required a high school diploma or less. Yet while young people today need more education than ever to compete in the labor market, a college education is more expensive than in the past.”


34% of respondents say the biggest challenge of the college admissions process is taking the SAT, ACT, or AP exams. 33% of respondents say completing applications for admission is the toughest aspect of the college admissions process.

But standardized testing in admissions is quickly changing. As of 2022, two-thirds of US colleges have gone test-optional in their admissions policy. In March, the California State University system officially dropped all SAT and ACT admissions requirements making California the first—and only—in the nation to remove standardized testing from all its public universities.

Sources: The Princeton Review, Georgetown University, The College Post, Cal Matters

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