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College Process Not So Complex, New Poll Reveals

Contrary to the hype about the college-application process, a study out today from the College Board shows most parents and students don't think the process is overly complex.

Complexity in College Admission: Fact or Urban Myth
polled 1,000 parents and students and found most felt applying to college is a relatively clear and simple process. However, the more colleges that students applied to, the more stressful the experience was for them.

Highlights of the survey:

• About 70 percent of students said their high schools offered a class or seminar to help explain the college-application process, and three-quarters of parents said the school offered seminars directed specifically at them. Most said they found the workshops helpful.

• The decision as to which colleges students would apply was generally made by the student, or jointly between the student and the family. Fifty-seven percent of students were more likely to think that they were completely in control of the decision, whereas 50 percent of parents were more likely to think that it was a joint decision.

• On average, students applied to about four colleges or universities. About one-third applied to five schools or more, another one-third applied to only one or two. Students most frequently applied to public schools and in-state schools.

• Overall, most respondents said that applying to college was a fairly simple process for students. However, parents of children who applied to five or more schools indicated that the process was slightly more complex.

• Most students completed all their application materials online, with very few completing forms on paper. About 53 percent of students who used an electronic, common application said it simplified the admissions process.

• The most confusing aspect of the college-application process: knowing how admission decisions were made, being able to find information they needed on college websites, and knowing who to contact at the college if they had questions.

• So, just who do students rely on to get through through the process? Parents and high school counselors. First-generation and lower-income students were more likely to receive a lot of help from other resources, such as high school counselors and teachers.

• When parents had questions about the college-application process, they most frequently visited the college's website; about half spoke with their child's school counselors or talked to college-admission staff.

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