Prospective college students want to see more student mental health supports on campus and greater diversity among counseling center staff.

Prospective students want more mental health support on campus


Nearly one-third of high schoolers may opt out of college due to mental health concerns

Key points:

A new survey from education company EAB shows that nearly one-third (28 percent) of high school students who are currently applying or considering applying to college cite mental health concerns as a reason they may choose to delay enrollment or opt out of college entirely.

The issue is most prominent among trans (54 percent), nonbinary (53 percent), Black (33 percent), Native American (30 percent), and female students (30 percent). Almost half (48 percent) of all students surveyed indicated that “stress and anxiety overshadow their college search and planning.”

The survey was administered through Appily.com, a new EAB website that enables aspiring college students to explore colleges, find scholarships, and more. The survey was completed by 6,330 US students in grades 9–12 in September 2023.

“Given the growing number of high school graduates opting out of college today, colleges must do a better job of acknowledging adolescent mental health struggles and reducing friction in the application process,” said EAB Vice President Michael Koppenheffer. “Colleges must also do a better job of communicating with students about the full range of mental health resources available to them.”

In addition to streamlining the application process, survey respondents noted several mental health support strategies that could make the decision to enroll easier. The supports cited most frequently by respondents include mental health sick days (55 percent), programs to facilitate social connections (43 percent), an on-campus counseling center (34 percent), simplified/easier-to-understand leave policies (27 percent), and free mental health apps/online tools (25 percent).

The survey also showed that the diversity of a college’s counseling center staff is a significant point of consideration for potential students as they consider their college options, particularly among trans students (55 percent), nonbinary students (48 percent), Black students (31 percent), Asian students (28 percent), and Native American students (25 percent).

“Recently, we expanded the free tools that we provide to help high school students explore and apply to colleges,” Koppenheffer added. “Among these is Appily, which simplifies the college search process and enables students to search and filter prospective colleges by on-campus affinity groups or mental health services.”

This press release originally appeared online.

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Laura Ascione

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