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Nearly One-Third of High Schoolers May Opt Out of College Due to Mental Health Concerns

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

January 30, 2024

Washington, DC (January 30) – A new survey from education company EAB shows that nearly one-third (28%) 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%), nonbinary (53%), Black (33%), Native American (30%), and female students (30%). Almost half (48%) of all students surveyed indicated that “stress and anxiety overshadow their college search and planning.”

The survey was administered through, 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%), programs to facilitate social connections (43%), an on-campus counseling center (34%), simplified/easier-to-understand leave policies (27%), and free mental health apps/online tools (25%).

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%), nonbinary students (48%), Black students (31%), Asian students (28%), and Native American students (25%).

“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.”

For more details on the survey results and to learn about ways to simplify the college search process, visit

About EAB

At EAB, our mission is to make education smarter and our communities stronger. We work with more than 2,600 institutions to drive transformative change through data-driven insights and best-in-class capabilities. From kindergarten to college to career, EAB partners with leaders and practitioners to accelerate progress and drive results across enrollment, student success, institutional strategy, and data analytics. We work with each partner differently, tailoring our portfolio of research, technology, and marketing and enrollment solutions to meet the unique needs of every leadership team, as well as the students and employees they serve. Learn more at