A recently conducted survey that is gaining attention from the world of education has revealed that 1 in 4 potential college applicants have opted out of applying to a college simply due to that state’s political environment.
For a while, rumors had been spreading in college admissions circles regarding this possibility, and its implications are dire for certain prominent universities across the nation.
For example, the University of Alabama relies heavily on enrolling out-of-state students, accounting for almost 60% of its student population.
“When you’re making a decision about a school, it’s really about choosing a community to live in,” said Chloe Chaffin, 20, a junior at Washburn University in Kansas, via The Hill. “Students want to feel that they belong to the city-community beyond the campus walls.”
The survey revealed that 31% of liberal applicants purposely avoided colleges due to their political views, predominantly in relation to abortion rights. Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida were amongst the most commonly avoided states.
And about 28% of conservative applicants eliminated California and New York from their list because they were wary of the liberal ideologies in those states. They weren’t so much concerned with particular regulations but were more skeptical about the overall atmosphere in places like college campuses.
“It actually tracks with conversations I’ve been having with my peers,” said Gregory Koger, a political scientist at the University of Miami, via The Hill.
“If you’re female, there’s some chance that you might need access to an abortion, and there are some states where that’s not possible. If you’re LGBTQ, you want to go to schools and to states that are friendly toward that.”
Compared to conservatives, liberals were far more vocal in the survey about the dangers of being stuck in an area where abortion is outlawed, LGBTQ+ individuals are not accepted, and gun laws are unregulated.
“I completely understand why some people would choose to be with their own, as opposed to being in a sea of people who are politically opposed to them, on either side of the aisle,” said Nate Sirotovitch, 20, a junior at New York University who leads the College Republicans, said via The Hill.
“If we stay in our echo chamber,” he said, “it’s only going to get worse.”
Even though Sirotovitch hails from conservative-leaning Florida, he chose to study in liberal-leaning New York, an area with a culture that largely differs from his political stance. But, he’s been able to form connections with folks from various walks of life.
Abortion rights: Surprisingly, people from both ends of the spectrum had a similar opinion on one thing: the negative view on strict abortion laws passed by certain states. A notable number of individuals who identified as either conservative or liberal agreed in this regard.
Most rejected states: College applicants steered clear of Alabama, with 38% omitting it from their preferences. This might be due to the strict laws on abortion and guns, as the state has some of the USA’s most lenient gun legislation.
After Alabama, Texas was the most-avoided state in the US due to its strict abortion laws which ban any abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Additionally, citizens living and studying there face difficulties while voting as they are one of the few states that do not accept student IDs as a form of identification for casting ballots. Republican lawmakers in several states are working to narrow voting options for college students, who tend to vote Democratic.
Louisiana and Florida ranked third and fourth among states most likely to be rejected by college-bound students.
FightSaga: Students only concerned about the culture and overall vibe on campus shouldn’t rush to omit certain states entirely. For example, Texas leans conservative but Austin is extremely liberal.
College sports, too?
Ron DeSantis, the conservative governor of Florida, has promoted legislation to ban Critical Race Theory — an academic framework that evaluates U.S. history through the lens of racism and has become a political catch-all buzzword for any race-related teaching — and African-American studies.
However, Sharon Austin, a political scientist from the University of Florida, stated that some of those measures could have unintended consequences for the Governor.
African-American studies have been a popular major for Black football players at Florida because the program represents “one of the few places on campus where you could actually find Black professors,” she said via The Hill.
House Bill 999, a pending state measure, targets programs that “espouse diversity, equity, and inclusion,” language that could be read to encompass African-American studies.
“That is something that is probably very concerning to them,” Austin said of the Black players. “And they are probably going to put some pressure on somebody. Because these are star athletes.”
The survey was conducted by the Art & Science Group, a consulting and research firm specializing in the higher-education sector. A total of 1,865 high-school seniors were interviewed between January and February for this survey and the results were balanced to reflect an accurate representation of the college-bound population.