COLLEGE HOPES AND WORRIES

October 18, 2019 at 4:45 am

High school students and their parents face enormous stress in the race to get accepted to the university of their dreams. We’re breaking down the myths and realities for those who are college-bound.

Aired on May 3 & October 17, 2019.

 

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>> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS," I'M JACK FORD.
IT HAS BEEN THE SCANDAL MAKING
HEADLINES FOR WEEKS AND ONE THAT
HAS ROCKED THE WORLD OF
HOLLYWOOD AND THE MEGA RICH,
PAYMENTS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS
IN SOME SITUATIONS REPORTEDLY
CHANGING HANDS TO GET THE
CHILDREN OF THE ELITE INTO THE
BEST COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES,
WHAT SOME CRITICS NOW SAY THAT
MONEY CAN BUY.
THESE HEADLINES ARE PLAYING OUT
IN HOMES ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY,
DURING THIS NAIL BITING SEASON
FOR THE NEARLY 3 MILLION HIGH
SCHOOL SENIORS APPLYING TO GET
INTO COLLEGE.
COLLEGE ACCEPTANCE OR REJECTION
LETTERS, FINANCIAL AID OFFERS
AND SCHOLARSHIPS ARE LANDING IN
MAILBOXES RIGHT NOW AND WITH
THAT MAIL COMES SOME
SIGNIFICANTLY FRAYED NERVES.
THE PRINCETON REVIEW HAS A WAY
TO EASE SOME OF THE STRESS AND
LATEST SURVEY THAT THEY TALK
ABOUT WHERE THEY'RE FOCUSING ON
COLLEGE HOPES AND WORRIES.
HERE WITH THE BREAKDOWN IS ITS
EDITOR IN CHIEF ROBERT FRANIC.
>> GOOD TO SEE YOU.
>> IT'S A DELIGHT TO TALK WITH
YOU AND YOU ALWAYS GIVE US A
GREAT UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT'S
GOING ON OUT THERE.
>> THANK YOU.
>> I'M GOING TO START WITH THE
SURVEY THAT YOU DID.
>> YEAH.
>> AND I'M GOING TO ASK YOU TO
EXPLAIN HOW MANY PEOPLE --
BECAUSE I WAS CERTAINLY
IMPRESSED BY THE NUMBER OF
PEOPLE AND FROM WHERE.
>> YEAH.
>> THIS IS NOT JUST A COUPLE OF
PEOPLE YOU WERE TALKING TO.
TELL ME ABOUT THE NATURE OF THE
EXTENT OF THE SURVEY.
>> THE SURVEY IS CALLED COLLEGE
HOPES AND WORRIES OUR 17th YEAR
DOING THE SURVEY, JUST SHY OF
7,000 STUDENTS AND THEIR PARENTS
COMPLETING THE SURVEY THIS YEAR.
IF WE CAN FIGURE OUT WHERE
STUDENTS AND PARENTS HOPES ARE
IT'S AN EASY PUTT TO GET THEM
THERE.
IF YOU CAN UNDERSTAND WHY
THEY'RE SCARED, WORRIED,
STRESSED WE CAN HAVE A
DISCUSSION OF SUBSTANCE TO HELP
DIFFUSE THAT FRENZY.
>> THE NOTION OF THE STRESS
LEVEL.
WHAT DID THE SURVEY FOUND IN
TERMS OF THE STRESS LEVEL FOR
THIS COHORT, IF YOU WILL, OF
HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS?
>> IT IS EXTREME.
AGAIN, IT'S MORE EXTREME THIS
YEAR THAN IT HAS BEEN THESE LAST
SEVERAL YEARS.
IT'S 73% OF THOSE NEARLY 12,000
COLLEGE BOUND STUDENTS AND THEIR
PARENTS SAID THEY WERE EITHER
STRESSED OR VERY STRESSED ABOUT
THE COLLEGE PROCESS AND THAT'S
INTERESTING SINCE WE'VE BEEN
DOING THIS SURVEY FOR SO LONG WE
LOOKED TO COMPARE IT TO 2003
NUMBERS AND IT WAS 53%.
WE KNOW THAT THERE HAS BEEN A
HUGE RISE IN STRESS AROUND THE
COLLEGE PROCESS IN SOME
COMPONENT.
>> AND YOU ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT
MILD STRESS, YOU'RE TALKING
ABOUT PEOPLE SAYING
SIGNIFICANTLY STRESSED OR, YOU
KNOW, RELATIVELY SIGNIFICANTLY
STRESSED.
>> YEAH.
>> LET'S TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE
FACTORS THAT ENTER INTO IT.
WE TALK ABOUT HOPES AND DREAMS
AND WORRIES.
>> YEAH.
>> SO WHEN YOU ASKED ABOUT,
OKAY, WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES NOW
COMING OUT, WHAT WAS THE
SIGNIFICANT FINDING FOR THAT?
>> WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT AND
THIS IS A LOT OF STUDENTS AS
WE'VE BEEN SAYING AND THEIR
PARENTS, 99% OF WHOM SAID
COLLEGE IS WORTH IT, BUT IT IS
WORTH IT FOR TWO SPECIFIC
REASONS, ONE, THAT THEY'RE GOING
TO GET A BETTER CAREER OF
SUBSTANCE UPON GRADUATION AND
THAT THEIR SCHOOL IS GOING TO BE
A BETTER FIT FOR THEM
ACADEMICALLY, CAMPUS CULTURE,
FINANCIAL AID AND CAREER
SERVICES.
THE INTERESTING THING THAT ONLY
9% SAID IT WAS ACADEMIC
REPUTATION THAT WAS MOST
IMPORTANT.
>> THAT'S INTERESTING.
THAT WOULD BE SURPRISING TO ME.
WAS THAT SURPRISING TO YOU ALSO?
>> I'M ONLY HEARTENED BY IT.
OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS IT'S
BEEN FAIRLY CONSISTENT.
IAMS ALWAYS SURPRISED BY IT, I
DO A LOT OF TALKS FOR COLLEGE
BOUND STUDENTS AND PARENTS, WHEN
I TELL THEM THAT DATA THEY ARE
LIKE THIS IS INTERESTING BECAUSE
IT'S THE QUESTION OF WHAT'S
GOING TO BE THE RETURN ON MY
INVESTMENT ACADEMICALLY IF I'M A
STUDENT AND RETURN ON MY
INVESTMENT IF I'M A STUDENT AND
PARENT PAYING FOR IT.
YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THERE'S
GOING TO BE SOME RETURN ON YOUR
INVESTMENT AFTER GRADUATION.
>> ARE YOU FINDING GENERALLY
THAT THE PARENTS MIGHT HAVE A
DIFFERENT VIEW THAN THE STUDENTS
WHEN THE STUDENTS ARE SAYING,
LOOK, IT'S NOT THE SAME THAT'S
IMPORTANT TO ME, IT'S THE FIT
THAT'S MOST IMPORTANT TO ME.
>> IT'S BEEN EERILY SIMILAR
BETWEEN THEM.
1 OR 2 PERCENTAGE POINTS OFF OF
THOSE THINGS.
PROBABLY NOT UNCOMMON.
WHAT WE HAVE FOUND SORT OF
DISPARATE ANSWERS IS THAT
PARENTS WANT THEIR KIDS TO GO
CLOSER TO HOME, 250 MILES OR
LESS, KIDS WANT TO GO 250 MILES
OR MORE.
>> RIGHT.
>> THAT STUFF THAT WE COULD
PROBABLY ASSUME, BUT WHEN IT
COMES TO THE VALUE OF COLLEGE
THEY ARE SIMILAR AND I LIKE THAT
BECAUSE THAT MEANS THEY'RE
GETTING GOOD COLLEGE COUNSEL IN
THEIR HIGH SCHOOLS AND
ULTIMATELY THEY'RE HAVING A
CONVERSATION OF SUBSTANCE WITH
SOMEBODY FROM THE ADMISSIONS
TEAM.
>> WE TALK ABOUT WORRY.
>> YEAH.
>> TOP OF THE LIST FOR WORRY IS?
>> IT IS INCURRING TOO MUCH DEBT
TO PAY FOR COLLEGE.
THIS HAS BEEN SOLIDLY NUMBER ONE
FOR THE LAST FIVE YEARS.
ITS NOT SURPRISING, YOU KNOW,
LEVEL OF DEBT BETWEEN PUBLIC AND
PRIVATE SCHOOLS IS JUST ABOUT
$30,000.
WHEN I ASK STUDENTS AND PARENTS
THEY LOFT IT UP TO 50, 60, 70,
80,008
80 THOUSAND DOLLARS AND NOT HAVE
AN UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE.
>> HOW ABOUT THE ROLE OF
FINANCIAL AGE, WHAT ARE THEY
THINKING IN TERMS OF WORRIES OR
FEARS OR HOPES?
>> 90% SOLIDLY SAID THAT
FINANCIAL SAID WAS GOING TO BE
NECESSARY, VERY NECESSARY OR
EXTREMELY NECESSARY FOR THEM TO
AFFORD SCHOOL.
SO WE UNDERSTAND THAT IF THEY'RE
CONCERNED ABOUT DEBT THEN IT
GOES IN HAND WITH THE IDEA OF
FINANCIAL AID BEING NECESSARY
FOR THE PROCESS.
WHICH I THINK IS FINE,
PARTICULARLY IF THE CONVERSATION
THAT THEY HAVE WITH SCHOOLS OR
PART OF THEIR RESEARCH
PROCESS -- WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THE
SURVEY, THIS IS WHAT STUDENTS
ARE THINKING ABOUT NOW AND THEIR
PARENTS.
IT'S NOT SAYING FIGURE TO THIS
COLLEGE I'M GOING TO WILL OR
HOPE THAT THIS IS GOING TO
HAPPEN.
SAYING THIS IS PART OF THE
FACTORS THAT I'M CONSIDERING
FORFEIT IN CHOOSING THAT
PARTICULAR SCHOOL.
>> ARE YOU GETTING A SENSE AS A
CONSEQUENCE OF YOUR INVOLVEMENT
IN THIS THAT THE SCHOOLS ARE
MORE COGNIZANT OF THESE FEARS
AND THAT THEY'RE DOING THINGS TO
HELP THESE INCOMING STUDENTS
ALLAY THESE FEARS IN SOME
FASHION.
>> THERE ARE MANY SCHOOLS THAT
ARE BRINGING CAREER SERVICES AND
CAREER DEVELOPMENT INTO THE
GENERAL CONVERSATION THAT THEY
HAVE WITH STUDENTS EARLY ON IN
THE COLLEGE PROCESS, WHETHER
THAT'S AT A COLLEGE FAIR OR
CAMPUS OPEN HOUSE.
I TELL STUDENTS THAT I VISIT
MORE COLLEGES THAN I'M CONVINCED
ANY OTHER PERSON ON THE PLANET,
BUT IF I'M NOT HEARING THAT
CONVERSATION OF HOW ARE
INTERNSHIPS, CO-OPS, CAREER
SERVICES IN GENERAL TIED TO MY
UNDERGRADUATE EXPERIENCE FROM
FIRST YEAR TO COLLEGE TO LAST
THAT'S WHAT I WANT TO HEAR AND
WHAT STUDENTS AND PARENTS ARE
ASKING TO HEAR AND SO MANY
SCHOOLS ARE SERVING IT UP EARLY
ON.
SOME ARE NOT BUT MANY ARE.
>> LET ME SHIFT FOCUS.
WE TALKED ABOUT THE SCANDAL.
>> OH, MY WORD.
>> YOU'VE BEEN IN THIS WORLD FOR
A LOT OF YEARS NOW.
>> YEAH.
>> WERE YOU SURPRISED BY IT?
>> I AM SURPRISED BY THE EXTENT
OF THIS SCANDAL AND I AM JUST
DEEPLY UPSET, MY FULL TEAM AT
THE PRINCETON REVIEW ARE DEEPLY
UPSET ABOUT THIS PROCESS AND HOW
IT CAN GO ON.
IT IS CHEATING AND IT IS
CHEATING IN TWO WAYS, CHEATING
ON THE SAT AND ACT AND CHEATING
ON ACADEMIC ADMISSION.
WHAT'S NOT SURPRISING IS THAT
THERE IS STRESS AROUND THE
PROCESS AND PEOPLE PLACE SUCH
BRAND PRESTIGE AND WEIGHT IN
SOME OF THE SCHOOLS THAT WERE,
YOU KNOW, SORT OF INVOLVED IN
THIS OR THE SCHOOLS THEMSELVES
NOT INVOLVED, BUT THE SCHOOLS
THAT THEY WERE APPLYING TO WERE
INVOLVED.
SO THAT DOES NOT SURPRISE ME.
THE STRESS LEVEL AS WE TALKED
ABOUT BUT THE BRAND PERCEPTION
THESE SCHOOLS ARE GOING TO GARN
ME A MORE SUCCESSFUL FUTURE.
THERE'S 3,000 SCHOOLS OUT THERE.
>> I SAID, LOOK, THERE ARE
PLENTY OF SCHOOLS WHERE YOU CAN
DO MARVELOUSLY AND PREPARE YOU
WONDERFULLY FOR YOUR LIFE.
LAST QUESTION.
SOMETIMES WE NEED A CRISIS TO
MAKE US SIT BACK AND THINK ABOUT
DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY.
DO YOU THINK THIS MIGHT HAVE
SOME IMPACT ON ALL THE STRESS
LEVELS OUT THERE AND THIS SORT
OF MYOPIC FOCUS THAT SAYS
THERE'S ONLY ONE GOOD SCHOOL
THAT MY CHILD CAN GO TO.
>> I THINK IT WILL AND I THINK
THE WAY COLLEGE ADMISSION WILL
CHANGE BECAUSE OF THIS CHEATING
SCANDAL IS THERE WILL BE MUCH
MORE VISIBILITY IN THE PROCESS
AND I THINK WE WILL HEAR IT FROM
THOSE HANDFUL OF SCHOOLS THAT
WERE SOMEHOW INVOLVED AND THE
NAMES OF THOSE SCHOOLS, BUT I
THINK WE WILL HEAR IT FROM DEANS
AND DIRECTORS OF ADMISSION AND
ADMISSION COUNSELORS, COLLEGE
PRESIDENTS AND UNIVERSITY CHANCE
LETTERS SAYING LET US PROVIDE
YOU FOR VISIBILITY.
IF YOU'RE SAYING THIS IS
TYPICAL, YOU ARE NO THE
SURPRISED THEN WE SHOULD REMIND
YOU THIS IS A HUMAN BUSINESS,
THERE ARE QUANTITATIVE METRICS,
BUT THIS IS A HUMAN PROCESS,
CHARACTER, GRIT, PERSEVERANCE AS
WE'VE TALKED ABOUT IN THE PAST
ARE PART AND PARCEL OF THIS
PROCESS BUT WE WILL NEED TO HEAR
THAT OVER THE NEXT YEAR AND
YEARS BECAUSE THIS IS GOING TO
TECTONICALLY CHANGE.
>> EVEN FROM THE TIME WHEN MY
KIDS WERE YOUNG, PRINCETON
REVIEW IS A MARV ROUSE RESOURCE
FOR PEOPLE AND THE DIFFERENT
SURVEYS ARE HELPFUL FOR FOLKS.
GOOD TO SEE STHU THANKS FOR THE
OPPORTUNITY.
>> YOU BE WELL.
>> YOU, TOO.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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