Anxiety about College Admission Is Normal

My daughter is in a frenzy worrying about getting into college. Is this typical? -- Overly Concerned

Answer: Your daughter is not in a frenzy all by herself, according to The Princeton Review's 2015 "College Hopes & Worries Survey Report." Stress about college applications, which 73 percent of respondents reported, is higher than ever -- a 17 percent increase over the 56 percent who reported such stress levels in the survey's initial year, 2003. Students reported higher stress levels than parents.

The Princeton Review (, one of the nation's best known education services companies, has conducted this survey since 2003. Findings for the 2015 survey are based on responses from 12,062 people: 80 percent were college applicants and 20 percent were parents of applicants. Respondents hailed from all 50 states and D.C., plus several countries abroad.

The toughest part of the process is taking college admission exams. Interestingly, 76 percent said they would prefer the ACT or current SAT to the new SAT (debuting in 2016) if all three tests were options.

Other things that the survey addressed that might be concerning your daughter are:

  • -College costs are soaring. Ninety percent of respondents this year said financial aid will be "very necessary" to pay for college. Within that cohort, 66 percent said "extremely necessary."
  • -Views about college are upbeat; 45 percent consider the main benefit of the diploma to be a "potentially better job/higher income," and 99 percent believe college will be "worth it."
  • -87 percent estimate their degree to cost "more than $50,000." Within that cohort, 42 percent said "more than $100,000." Parents' estimates were higher than students'.
  • -39 percent (the plurality) said their biggest concern was "level of debt to pay for the degree." For 35 percent, their biggest worry was "will get into first-choice college, but won't have sufficient funds/aid to attend." Given the $28,400 average debt of 2013 college grads, these concerns are understandable. In 2009, the answer most selected was "won't get into first-choice college."