US students and parents were asked to name their 'dream school' -- and the same college topped both lists

Linda A. Cicero/Stanford University/FacebookStudents and parents both considered Stanford University to be one of the best colleges in the US.
  • The best colleges appeal to students and parents alike.
  • The Princeton Review asked thousands of college applicants and parents to name their “dream schools.”
  • Their answers didn’t always overlap, but there was consensus on the No. 1 college: Stanford.

Applying for colleges is a significant milestone in any young person’s life.

But when it comes to choosing the best college, prospective students and their parents don’t always see eye to eye.

The Princeton Review released the results of its annual “College Hopes and Worries” survey on Tuesday, and it included a ranking of the top 10 “dream schools” for students and parents alike.

The survey asked more than 9,000 college applicants which school they wished they could attend if acceptance or cost weren’t an issue. It also surveyed more than 1,600 parents of college applicants to ask which school they wished their child would attend under the same circumstances, and compared the results. More than 800 schools got votes, the Princeton Review said in a statement.

Among the top 10, there’s plenty of overlap – including the No. 1 rank, Stanford University – and plenty of disagreement, too.

Read on to see what students and parents considered the best colleges in the country, listed roughly in order of least to most desirable:

Cornell University

Students’ rank: Unranked

Parents’ rank: 10

University of Southern California

Students’ rank: 10

Parents’ rank: unranked

University of California, Berkeley


Students’ rank: 9

Parents’ rank: unranked

University of Pennsylvania

Students’ rank: unranked

Parents’ rank: 8

University of Michigan

Students’ rank: unranked

Parents’ rank: 7

Brown University

Students’ rank: unranked

Parents’ rank: 6

University of California, Los Angeles

Shutterstock/Michael Gordon

Students’ rank: 5

Parents’ rank: unranked

New York University

Melia Robinson/BI

Students’ rank: 3

Parents’ rank: unranked

Columbia University

Students’ rank: 7

Parents’ rank: 9

Yale University

Students’ rank: 8

Parents’ rank: 5

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Shutterstock/Marcio Jose Bastos Silva

Students’ rank: 6

Parents’ rank: 2

Princeton University

Students’ rank: 4

Parents’ rank: 3

Harvard University

Jannis Tobias Werner /

Students’ rank: 2

Parents’ rank: 4

Stanford University


Students’ rank: 1

Parents’ rank: 1

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