May 8, 2015

This year's freshmen give 23 reasons for choosing a college


The CIRP (Cooperative Institutional Research Program) Freshman Survey administered by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies is the largest and longest-running survey of American college students.

Since 1966, more than 15 million first-time, first-year students at 1,900 have used this forum to respond to an evolving list of questions designed to get at who they are and what they care about.

year’s study reflects the attitudes and trends expressed by 153,015 freshmen entering 227 four-year colleges and universities of “varying levels of selectivity and type in the United States."

And not surprisingly, financial considerations continue to exert pressure on incoming freshmen, with college costs and financial aid playing an increasingly decisive role in school-selection.

Although nearly three-quarters (72.7 percent—down from 75.5 percent the previous year) of those surveyed were admitted to their first choice college in 2014, only 55 percent enrolled—the lowest proportion since CIRP first measured the item in 1974.  At the same time, the percentage of students indicating that cost was a “very important” factor in their college-choice process hovered around 45 percent.

In addition, the percentage of students reporting that a financial aid offer was a “very important” factor in their decision to enroll at their current campus came in at just under 47 percent—up from 34 percent in 2004.

Perhaps this is because almost 67 percent have “some” or “major” concerns about their ability to finance a college education.  In fact, a significant of first-year students (14 percent) reported they could not afford their first choice school in 2014.

As a result, students are looking for job-related benefits in their choice of college.  In fact, 86.1 percent of incoming freshmen cited “to be able to get a better job” as a very important reason for enrolling—considerably up from the reported low of 67.8 percent in 1976.

Although academic reputation still weighs heavily in college choice, it’s clear that financial realities may be having a very real effect on the final decision to attend.  And these considerations appear more important than the likelihood that they’ll ever graduate, as less than a third of the survey respondents even considered graduation rates an important factor in their choice of college.

In fact, the CIRP survey probed student awareness of
time it takes to graduate.  Responses indicated that almost 85 percent expect to graduate from the college they had just entered in four years.  This represents a major disconnect between expectations and reality, as the national four-year graduation rate is just over 39 percent.

The following are the 23 reasons for choosing a college students were offered in the UCLA survey. The percentages provided indicate what portion of students surveyed considered these factors "very important."
  1. College has a very good academic reputation (65.4 percent)↑
  2. This college’s graduates get good jobs (53.4 percent)↑
  3. I was offered financial assistance (46.9 percent)↓
  4. The cost of attending this college (44.9 percent)↓
  5. College has a good reputation for social activities (42.8 percent)↓
  6. A visit to the campus (42.4 percent)↓
  7. Wanted to go to a college about this size (36.6 percent)↓
  8. Grads get into good grad/professional schools (32.9 percent)↓
  9. Percent of students that graduate from this college (31.1 percent)↑
  10. Wanted to live near home (20.7 percent)↑
  11. Information from a website (18.8 percent)↑
  12. Rankings in national magazines (18 percent)↑
  13. Parents wanted me to go to this school (17.2 percent)↓
  14. Admitted early decision and/or early action (15.7 percent)↑
  15. Could not afford first choice (14.1 percent)↓
  16. Not offered aid by first choice (10.6 percent)↓
  17. High school counselor advised me (10.4 percent)↑
  18. Athletic department recruited me (9.1 percent)↓
  19. My relatives wanted me to come here (8 percent)↑
  20. Attracted by religious affiliation/orientation of college (7.3 percent)↓
  21. My teacher advised me (7.2 percent)↑
  22. Private college counselor advised me (4.6 percent)↑
  23. Ability to take online courses (4.1 percent)↑
Note that for the fourth consecutive year, the percentage of students describing the role of private college counselors as “very important” increased.

For more information or to download a complete copy of the report, visit the HERI website.

No comments:

Post a Comment