CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Leelila Strogov, CEO of AtomicMind, works with college students and parents to get teens into the universities of their dreams. But, she said she was surprised when that list of dream schools got shorter after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, making abortions unconstitutional in some states. Some students and parents are now crossing colleges in conservative states off their list.
“I was curious to see, is this just our student pool, or is this a bigger phenomenon?” Strogov wondered.
So, AtomicMind used a third-party survey to ask over 250 students between the ages of 17 and 29. The survey found that overall, nearly half the respondents (45.8%) said the Roe v. Wade overturn will impact their decision on where to attend college. Even more surprising, men were about 7% more likely to consider the ruling in their decision-making than women—47.3% to 40.8%.
“I think it is because they may feel a little bit more out of control if something were to happen,” Strogov speculated.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a student would be willing to transfer because of the ruling. Aaron Dickens, a West Virginia University graduate student, said he prefers to be in a pro-choice state, but he doesn’t want to leave the university because he loves the education he’s getting there and he’s invested so much time and effort into it.
While this is less likely to affect students who have already decided on a college, the older the students were in the survey, the more likely they were to consider access to abortion as a factor. Only 38.3% of high school students confirmed the court decision will impact their choices, versus 44.1% of college students and over half (57.6%) of graduate students.
“What I am taking away from this is that there are some students for whom being sexually active is not even remotely on their minds,” Strogov said, “And because of that, they don’t care, so they’re not thinking about it. But I do think for the 50% who either that’s already happening or are thinking it probably will happen in college, I think they are thinking, ‘Well, I don’t want to end up in a state that might criminalize me.'”
This could make colleges in conservative states with a high out-of-state student rate less attractive. Thinking strategically about college admissions, Strogov said this could mean that it could become harder to get into schools in liberal states, but easier to get into schools in conservative states.
“There are certain amazing, highly competitive schools in some of these states that will now likely get a lot easier to get into, so if you are one of those students who doesn’t mind going onto one of these campuses, this might be your shot,” said Strogov.
But ultimately, Strogov predicts that it will make the college landscape more divisive as conservative students pick schools in conservative states and liberal students pick schools in liberal states. And whether it’s impacting a person’s college choice, she thinks there will be a rise in activism on college campuses. That’s something Dickens mentioned as well.
“Transferring is a long, vigorous process; there would have to be more reason for me to leave my school,” Dickens said, “If anything, I think the better option for me would be to peacefully protest at WVU/WV and advocate for change so women can have their liberties back.”
As to whether this could be just an initial shock to the ruling, Strogov said, “Definitely not.”
“I think this is absolutely going to be permanent,” Strogov said, “I think it’s real, and I think the colleges are probably quite worried about it themselves.”