College applicants hear from Harvard and Princeton on ‘Ivy Day,’ but here’s the school they most want to attend.

College applicants hear from Harvard and Princeton on 'Ivy Day,' but here's the school they most want to attend.

Today, March 30th, is known as ‘Ivy Day,’ when many Ivy League schools release their long-awaited admissions decisions. With acceptance into the Ivy League considered highly desirable, a recent survey by The Princeton Review found that Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is the ultimate dream school for college applicants this year.

According to the survey of college-bound students and their families, the colleges that ranked highest on students’ wish lists are “perennial favorites” and also among the most competitive. With an acceptance rate of just under 4%, MIT is highly sought after, followed closely by Harvard with an acceptance rate of about 3%.

The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief, Robert Franek, highlighted the popularity of these schools as a sign of their continued excellence in higher education. However, with such fierce competition, the pressure is high for college applicants to stand out among their peers and secure a spot at their dream school.

For those waiting anxiously for Ivy Day decisions, the wait is finally over. But for many others, the application process is just beginning as they begin to navigate the highly competitive landscape of higher education.

    Top 10 “dream” colleges and universities
    As named by students applying to collegeThe list shows the top 10 dream schools as named by students applying to college in 2023.
    Table with 2 columns and 10 rows. Currently displaying rows 1 to 10.

    1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    2. Stanford University
    3. Harvard College
    4. New York University
    5. University of California – Los Angeles
    6. Princeton University
    7. University of Pennsylvania
    8. Columbia University
    9. University of Michigan
    10. University of Texas – Austin

    Table: Gabriel Cortes / CNBC
    Source: The Princeton Review’s 2023 College Hopes & Worries Survey.

    According to a recent report by the Common Application, a small group of universities, primarily in the Ivy League, have seen a surge in applications this season. Despite a nationwide slump in enrollment, application volume has jumped by 30% since the 2019-20 school year. The pandemic seems to have caused a shift in priorities for college applicants, with many seeking out only the most prestigious universities, believing they are the only ones worth attending.

    “There’s a subconscious consensus that it’s only worth going to college if you can go to a life-changing college,” said Hafeez Lakhani, founder and president of Lakhani Coaching in New York.

    This trend has been evident in recent years, with Ivy League institutions experiencing a spike in applications, making admissions highly competitive. The most sought-after colleges, including Harvard and MIT, accept less than 4% of applicants. Despite the challenges, students and their families continue to apply in record numbers, hoping for a chance to attend these prestigious institutions.

    The pandemic may have contributed to this phenomenon, as students seek a sense of stability and certainty during a time of great upheaval. The trend towards prestigious universities is not new, but the pandemic may have amplified it. As the world adjusts to a post-pandemic reality, it remains to be seen whether this trend will continue, or whether students will once again prioritize other factors when selecting their colleges.

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