Princeton Review's 2011 "College Hopes & Worries Survey" Reports on 12,000 Students' & Parents' "Dream Schools" & Application Experiences

69% Report High Levels of Stress

72% Say Economy Affecting Their Choices

86% Say Financial Aid "Very Necessary"

Stanford #1 "Dream School" Among Students, Harvard #1 Among Parents

Mar 24, 2011, 00:01 ET from The Princeton Review

NEW YORK, March 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Some call it "the other March madness."  It's nail-biting season now through April as college acceptance / rejection and financial aid letters land in family mailboxes. 

According to The Princeton Review's annual "College Hopes & Worries Survey" of college applicants and parents of applicants, stress levels are high and college costs remain a major concern this year: 86% of respondents say financial aid will be "very necessary" and 72% report the state of the economy has affected their college choices.

However, the "dream school" students most wish they could attend is Stanford while parents most wish their kids were heading to Harvard.

The Princeton Review, one of the nation's best known education services companies, has conducted its "College Hopes & Worries Survey" since 2003. This year's findings are based on surveys completed by 12,185 respondents: 8,219 college applicants and 3,966 parents of applicants from all 50 states and DC. The 15-question survey ran in The Princeton Review book, Best 373 Colleges: 2011 Edition (Random House) and on from late January to early March. 

Top 10 "Dream Colleges"

For the survey's only fill-in-the-blank question, "What 'dream college' do you wish you or your child could attend if acceptance or cost weren't issues?" respondents wrote in the names of more than 545 institutions.  

The schools most named by students as their "dream colleges" were:

1) Stanford

2) Harvard

3) New York University

4) Princeton

5) Massachusetts Institute of Technology

6) Yale

7) University of California-Los Angeles

8) University of Pennsylvania

9) University of Southern California

10) University of California-Berkeley.

The schools most named by parents as their "dream colleges" were:

1) Harvard

2) Stanford

3) Princeton

4) Massachusetts Institute of Technology

5) Yale

6) Duke

7) Brown

8) New York University

9) University of Notre Dame

10) Northwestern.

Other Findings: Responses to Survey Questions With Multiple-Choice Answers

Among respondents overall, when asked about:

  • College application stress:
    69% selected answer choices reporting their stress levels as "high" or "very high" (up 13% from 2003, the first year of the survey).

  • Most looked-at statistic when researching a college:
    38% (the plurality) chose "average SAT score range of admitted freshmen" while 24% chose "percent of applicants accepted," 21% chose "percent of students receiving financial aid," and 17% chose "graduation rate."

  • Biggest worry:
    37% (the plurality) chose "will get into first-choice college, but won't have sufficient funds/financial aid to attend."

  • Estimate of cost for their college education:
    66% of students – yet 82% of parents – chose "more than $75,000."

  • Main benefit of college degree:
    42% (the plurality) chose "a potentially better job and income."

  • Distance from home their "ideal" college would be:
    50% of parents chose "0 to 250 miles," while 66% of students selected choices in ranges over 250 miles.

The Princeton Review asked respondents for advice for next year's applicants.  The most repeated tip from students and parents: "Start early." One mother added,  "Start the whole process a year earlier than you think."  One student wrote: "Put your best into your application. Most of the time you underestimate your abilities and worry. The worst experience is the waiting period."

A survey report showing all questions, answer choices, and findings (including percentages of student and parent responses), plus a sampler of students' and parents' advice is at

About The Princeton Review

The Princeton Review (Nasdaq: REVU) has been a pioneer and leader in helping students achieve their higher education goals for more than 28 years through college and graduate school test preparation and private tutoring. With more than 165 print and digital publications and a free website,, the Company provides students and their parents with the resources to research, apply to, prepare for and learn how to pay for higher education. The Princeton Review partners with schools and guidance counselors throughout the U.S. to assist in college readiness, test preparation and career planning services, helping more students pursue postsecondary education. The Company also owns and operates Penn Foster Education Group, a global leader in online education. Penn Foster provides career-focused degree and vocational programs in the fields of allied health, business, technology, education and select trades through the Penn Foster High School and Penn Foster Career School (  The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University and not a magazine.

SOURCE The Princeton Review