First-Year Survey


In order to understand the potential impact of college experiences with diversity, it is important first to obtain information on students' entering characteristics, dispositions, skills, and values. The ideal time to obtain such information is at college entry, before students have substantial experience in college. First-year student populations were selected in order to obtain their pre-college experiences with diversity, impressions of new peers, and initial starting points on cognitive, social, and democracy outcomes. This is an important baseline for the longitudinal research design that includes the Secon-Year Survey at the end of students' second year in college. A second purpose was to monitor, for the first time, many outcomes related to participating in a diverse democracy, which could be validated across a number of campuses with different types of student populations. Researchers may use these outcomes to measure key skills identified by employers seeking graduates who can navigate a diverse workplace successfully. These measures also allow us to explore skills relevant to the work of future leaders in many communities.

Highlights of the First-Year Survey across the ten campuses are featured below:

• Among skills and abilities, students rated themselves highest (78%) in the ability to work cooperatively with diverse people. However, only 36% of students reported that they have strong knowledge about the cultural backgrounds of others.

• Despite the varying selectivity of institutional admissions, the median family income of students attending eight of the 10 campuses range from $60,000-99,000. The two exceptions where the students' family income was lowest were at the minority-serving institutions ($30,000-39,999 at one, and $40,000 to 59,000 at the other).

• While 74% of students believed it is important to vote in a national election, only 23% were likely to help members of the community get out to vote in elections during their college careers.

• Approximately 79% of students believed it was essential or very important to promote racial tolerance and respect, and 82% were likely to make efforts to get to know individuals from diverse backgrounds.

• Almost 70% of students thought that keeping up with schoolwork during their first year at the university would be somewhat or very difficult. The next most difficult issue for students (57%) was paying for college expenses.

• Slightly less than a third (29%) of the students engaged in volunteer work while in high school, but 75% agreed that they have an obligation to "give back" to the community.

• More than half (55%) of the students believed it was essential or very important to pay taxes to support public services, but only 17% believed it was important to contribute money to a political cause.