Students With High Test Scores Go Farther Away For College

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The higher a student’s score on a college entrance exam, the farther from home the student is likely to go for college, reports Mary Beth Marklein of USA Today. A similar link exists between the education level of the student’s parents: The more educated the parents, the farther from home their son or daughter tends to venture. Marklein continues:

“The results don’t necessarily mean high-scoring students can’t wait to get out from under their parents’ thumbs. The findings are ‘less about miles traveled and more about opportunity,’ says Steve Kappler, an assistant vice president for ACT, the testing company based in Iowa City that released the findings Tuesday. ‘The higher your score, the more opportunities you have. Students with more money have more opportunity. … They have the ability … to hop on an airplane and go check out a school.’

The study, which examined ACT scores of about 1.17 million students in the high school graduating class of 2012, found that the median distance between home and campus for all students was 51 miles.

Distances varied widely by test scores, which range from 1 to 36. Among students scoring a 33 or higher, the median distance was 170 miles; among those who scored below 24, less than 50 miles. A 2009 study of SAT scores, published in the Journal of College Admission, found a similar pattern.

The ACT data support other research showing that low-income students who score high on their entrance exams limit their options because they don’t know enough about the college selection process—including the availability of financial aid at schools they may have never heard of.

If students had their druthers, more might go farther afield. A 2012-13 survey by The Princeton Review, a test-prep company, found that college applicants differed with their parents about how far from home their ideal college would be. More than half of parents said less than 250 miles; more than 60% of students said more than 250 miles.” (Read more here.)

If you went to college, how far from home did you go? My university was about three and a half hours away from my parents’ house, which felt just right: I could get home in an afternoon, but my parents couldn’t drop by on a moment’s notice!

How about you—what was your experience?

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3 Responses to “Students With High Test Scores Go Farther Away For College”

  1. Jim Olsen says:

    My kids go to a college/university that is 4 hours away – It is perfect for us (for the same reasons you gave). If we need to we can drive up there, do something, and come back the same day (even though we don’t find we need to do that much).

  2. Wyn Robertson says:

    I went to a college that was about 300 miles away from home. I loved the college, but it was a bit far. The only time my parents came down was for my graduation. I was the first in my family to go to college, so I just checked out whatever printed info I could get, and didn’t see the collage until after I was accepted.

  3. My university was in the same city in which I was born and raised, though in a different part of the city. Of several universities that had accepted me, I chose to attend the only one that offered me a scholarship.

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