April 5, 2006

Students Call C.U. a 'Dream'

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April at Cornell brings two things to campus: an end to the brutally harsh Ithaca winter and hundreds of prefrosh, parents and pamphlets in tow. With the college application process drawing to a close, students around the country are deciding where they will be starting school in the fall – and according to a recent survey by the Princeton Review, many would like to be “far above Cayuga’s waters.”

The Princeton Review, a New York-based education services company best known for their test prep courses and college admission services, surveyed 3,890 college applicants and 1,012 parents of applicants for its annual “College Hopes and Worries Survey.” The survey, which ran in The Princeton Review’s yearly college ranking book, “Best 361 Colleges,” was based on surveys completed from August through February.

The survey’s only fill-in-the-blank question asked parents and students “what ‘dream college’ would you most like to attend (or see your child attend) if acceptance or cost weren’t issues?”

While answers varied, with New York University coming in at #1 for the students and Princeton ranking first among parents, Cornell ranked #9 for both parents and students.

The schools named by students were: 1) New York University, 2) Harvard, 3) Princeton, 4) Stanford, 5) Yale, 6) Brown, 7) Columbia, 8) Duke, 9) Cornell, 10) University of California Los Angeles. Parents named 1) Princeton, 2) Stanford, 3) Harvard, 4) University of Notre Dame, 5) Duke, 6) Yale, 7) Boston College, 8) Brown, 9) Cornell, 10) Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Cornell’s increased appeal among parents and students is undoubtedly part of the reason behind the continuing increase in applications to Cornell. The Class of 2010 saw a 15 percent increase in applications from the Class of 2009 and an astounding 35 percent increase in applications from the Class of 2008. Cornell’s jump in applications surpassed those of the other Ivy League schools, which, with the exception of Harvard, saw increases of six to ten percent.

Students cite a wide array of factors as influencing their decisions to apply to and attend Cornell.

“What was appealing to me about Cornell was that it offered a really strong pre-professional program, while at the same time having the resources of a major liberal arts institution,” said Jeremy Siegel ’09.

Doris Davis, associate provost for the administration and enrollment office, said that Cornell’s inclusion in the top 10 is “not surprising”, citing “the diversity of academic programs at Cornell, along with [its] outstanding faculty, top-notch facilities and location” as appealing factors for high school students. She adds that the university has worked “to greatly emphasized Ezra Cornell’s vision of ‘any person, any study,'” an effort that she feels “really resonates with students and parents.”

Also included in Princeton Review’s survey were questions about deciding which college to attend, with the majority of students responding that they’d pick the college that was the best overall fit and only 9 percent answering that they were most likely to choose the school with the best academic reputation. 59 percent of student and parent respondents reported high levels of stress about the application process, and 71 percent said that they expected the cost of their degree to exceed $50,000.

The Princeton Review, which as published the findings of its “College Hopes and Worries Survey” since 2003, has recently published a new book, “Parents’ Guide to College Life.” The book, by Princeton Review Communications Director Robin Raskin, includes more of the survey’s findings. Among them were responses from a survey question asking what aspect of college life parents and students expected to find most challenging. 41 percent answered “Money matters: spending wisely and avoiding debt,” 28 percent said “Academics: keeping up with coursework,” 17 percent chose “Dorm life: living with a roommate,” and 14 percent responded with “Social scene: dealing with drinking, drugs and dating.”

So as the “spring fever” of college decisions winds down and Ithaca finds itself flooded once again with tour groups and eager parents, the Princeton Review’s survey reveals that Cornell students – and those considering enrollment in the fall – have much to be proud of as a “Top 10 Dream College.”

Archived article by Christine Ryu
Sun Staff Writer