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How Freshman Picked Their Colleges

How did the latest crop of college freshmen pick their schools?
Money played a tremendous role, according to a new survey by Maguire Associates, a higher-ed consulting firm, and FastWeb, the popular scholarship search engine.

Nearly one third of freshmen say they aren't heading to their No. 1 choice of colleges in the fall because they couldn't afford these schools. More than half of the teenagers (56%) received financial aid, but 82% said they didn't receive as much as they had hoped.

To keep costs down, 22% of teenagers ultimately selected schools nearby so they could commute from home.

More Facts About the Class of 2015

Nearly 63% of freshmen are heading to their first-choice college. Among those who aren't going to their No. 1 school, 35% of teenagers were rejected and 31% couldn't afford it.

When asked what were the three most important reasons for selecting their school, here were the teenagers' top responses:

  1. 44.6% Quality of major
  2. 43.2% Scholarships or financial aid
  3. 40.8% Total costs
  4. 38.4% Academic reputation
  5. 35.6% Campus setting/environment
  6. 34.5% Close to home
  7. 19.0% Social life/opportunities
  8. 17.3% Geographic location of campus
What I thought was particularly interesting and sad was that 13.6% of the teenagers said their parents' preference was one of the biggest reasons why they chose their school. Also dubious: nearly 6% said a major reason for selecting their school was US News and World Report college rankings.

For surveyed teenagers, 10.5% found it very difficult to make their final college choice. In contrast, nearly 49% found it very or moderately easy to make their decision.

Finally, appealing financial aid awards clearly can work. Nineteen percent of teenagers appealed their initial awards and nearly 37% had their awards increased as a result.

Only 19% plan to take more than four years to graduate from college, but in reality just 36% of students across the country graduate on time.

Read More on CBS MoneyWatch:

Here's the Nation's Easiest College Major
25 Facts About Today's College Freshmen
Why America's Most Expensive Colleges Could Hurt Your Wallet
Where Professors Send Their Children to College
25 Private Colleges With the Best Graduation Rates
Lynn O'Shaughnessy is author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also writes her own college blog at The College Solution.
College freshmen image by California Cthulhu. CC 2.0.
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