Schools Offering Academics, Affordability, and Experience Top Dream Colleges List
Students who are beginning their college application process can compare their dream schools to those of last year’s contenders.
College applicants named Harvard, Stanford and Columbia universities among their dream schools last year, according to a new study.
Some of the other top institutions included New York University, Princeton University, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brown University and University of Southern California (USC), according to last month’s “College Hopes and Worries” survey, published by the Princeton Review.
The survey was based on responses from 10,650 people, from which 7,445 respondents were college applicants and 3,195 were parents of applicants from Washington, D.C. and all 50 states, along with those in other countries.
The Princeton Review prepares and assists students, parents and teachers for standardized tests and school admissions. The “College Hopes and Worries” survey, first conducted in the 2002-2003 academic year, is an effort to learn about the hopes and fears of college-bound students and families, said Rob Franek, a senior vice president and publisher at the Princeton Review.
“There are so many students that use our website, and we put out our findings…so they know they’re not alone,” Franek said.
Other survey questions measured the stress level in the college application process, how the state of the economy has affected applying to colleges, and how much financial aid would be needed to pay for college. Franek said the survey also helps students in their college research and better understand issues like standardized testing and financial aid.
Kevin Galvin, director of news and media relations at Harvard University, said while it is always nice to be recognized as one of the top universities, there are other factors that need to be considered.
“Our admissions officers always tell prospective students that they should select a college or university that best suits their needs, not by its position in a ranking,” Galvin said.
Yet Darlene Trew Crist, director of news and communications at Brown University, said rankings are one of the tools available to student and families when learning about, evaluating and making decisions about college options.
“There's a school for every student, and it's important that students make decisions based on what's best for their interests and talents,” she said.
Brown is ranked ninth on the dream schools list – a fair ranking, according to Brown freshman Austin Tam. He expressed enthusiasm for his school’s safe and ideal location, as well as its liberal campus life and open academic curriculum.
“Brown is fitting for someone that wants to take control of their college experience: academics, activism, participation, etc.,” he said. “There are many opportunities here.”
Patrick Verdier, a sophomore at Yale University, said Yale was unequivocally a dream school for him, and it helped him discover his academic passion for linguistics. Yale ranked number seven on the list.
“The classes, the professors, the campus, the people, are better than I could have imagined,” he said. “It has made me more mature, responsible, and self-aware. I don't think I'm ever bored here - Yale is definitely the school of my dreams.”
And while Ivy League schools were perhaps unsurprisingly on the list, there were some notable non-Ivies that students considered dream schools. Franek noted that many of the schools on the list, while academically strong, offered exceptional experiences.
Hanqing Chen, a New York University sophomore, thinks that students find NYU special because its surroundings are more different that that of other schools. NYU ranked number four on the dream school list.
“The idea of being right in the middle of New York City, surrounded by the ‘real world’ is very exciting for many students,” she said.
Franek added that financial aid packages also greatly contributed to the dream school ranking.
“These schools might have heart stopping sticker prices…but many are also making the sticker price affordable for the average student and family,” he said.
Steve Ritea, assistant director of media relations at UCLA, which ranked number six, said the university is known worldwide for its breadth of research, academics and affordability.
“UCLA continues to offer students access to an affordable, top quality education, as evidenced by a wide variety of rankings,” Ritea said. “This year, UCLA received a record number of applications from a diverse pool of applicants representing all ethnic, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds.”
Link to survey results: http://www.princetonreview.com/college-hopes-worries.aspx