The 2014 American Freshman survey conducted by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) and the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA showed-up some interesting differences between the current group of college freshman compared to their older peers.
Survey Results : An Overview
The national survey conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California Los Angeles (UCLA) found that the current college freshmen who were entering their teens during the economic fallout of the recession to be more concerned with financial success; and to party less.
Aspirations to enhance career prospects with graduate school attendance showed-up in the survey, as did taking academics more seriously. That today’s college freshmen applied themselves to study and academics even before college is evidenced in the survey, as well.
The survey has been conducted for 49 years by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. Interim managing director, Kevin Eagan, noted that it remains unclear whether this group’s reported relative abstinence during high school will prove them to be a tame group. He pose it could mean the temptation to get into other trouble or binge drink may be greater now they are away from home.
The survey also showed-up this group of college freshmen reporting higher levels of depression and other emotional issues.
A percentage of survey respondents (11%) reported that during their high school senior year they spent 6 hours or more per week at parties, in comparison to 23% a decade ago. A markedly larger percentage (61%) reported spending on hour or less per week at parties, in comparison to 39% of college freshmen surveyed a decade ago.
Both frequent and occasional beer drinking showed a decrease amongst this current college freshmen group, with 33.5% reporting compared to 45.5 % a decade ago; and 69% three decades ago (1984).
Only 39% of this current group of freshmen reported past year drinking of hard liquor or wine, compared with around 52% a decade ago. In 1987, when the survey addressed this issue, 68% of surveyed freshmen reported drinking hard liquor or wine in the year prior to survey.
The CIRP survey was taken primarily during summer orientation last year at 227 four-year colleges, and by 153,000 students.
The survey first asked freshmen to rate their mental health in 1985. At that time, 3.5% of survey respondents rated their mental health to be worse than the majority of their peers. When the same question was asked of freshmen a decade ago, the number increased to 7%. When the 2014 freshmen were asked to rate their mental health, 12% rated it as worse than the majority of their peers.
On a positive note, the survey found this current group of college freshmen to be ambitious. They also reported becoming financially well-off to be very important—or essential, with a record 82% response. Before the 2008 recession, 77% responded in kind to the same question.
Interesting factors revealed by this survey found these college entry-level students aspire to a master’s degree (44%), a survey record. Those wanting to earn a professional or doctorate degree was also at a new high. In the last decade, interest in law school has dropped, while interest in medical school increased.
According to interim managing director Eagan, these youngsters saw the result of the 2009 economy crash, including college-educated individuals losing their jobs. He suggests their belief in needing more money to remain comfortable and having seen a bachelor’s degree may not be adequate, fuels their desire for a good salary post-graduation.
Partying less, drinking less, and refraining from drug use will go far in helping these college freshmen achieve their dreams and goals.