Emory Report

February 9, 1998

 Volume 50, No. 20

Emory students measure
up in annual UCLA survey
of college freshmen nationwide

Results are in for the annual UCLA national survey of college freshmen, and Emory's incoming students weighed in last fall along with 1.6 million others across the country.

Bucking what seems a national trend, Emory freshmen still consider keeping up with politics and current affairs an "essential" or "very important" life goal. Fifty-two percent of Emory students gave those responses as opposed to 27 percent nationwide and 44 percent in the University's peer cohort of highly selective private universities-a group including Duke, Georgetown and Vanderbilt, among others. Twenty-five percent of Emory freshmen said they frequently discussed politics, compared to just 14 percent nationally.

"Politics shape everything that goes on in our lives, from local to national to worldwide events," said freshman Beth Parr, a political science major from Gadsden, Ala., who said about half her friends keep up with current events. "People have different reasons for their attitudes, whether it be religious background, where they're from or their socioeconomic status. It's helpful to hear other people's reasoning. It helps shape my own views."

61 percent of Emory students traveled more than 500 miles to attend the University; 45 percent of students in the peer group made similar treks.

UCLA's survey, sponsored by the American Council on Education, has measured college freshman attitudes since 1966. Buried in the pages of statistics are students' opinions on everything from whether an individual is powerless against society (24 percent of Emory freshmen agree) to how many think they will change majors (21 percent).

"Emory College has participated in the survey since its inception in 1966, and these results form our most continuous and complete longitudinal data on the attitudes and circumstances first-year students bring to Emory," said Susan Frost, vice provost for Institutional Planning and Research. "The changes over time are fascinating, as are comparisons with first-year students at other universities."

Demographically, Emory continues to be more diverse. The percentage of white freshmen has decreased from 84 percent in 1987 to 72 percent in 1997. And while African American enrollment has remained a fairly constant 7 or 8 percent over that decade, the percentage of Asian American students has more than doubled, from 7 percent in 1987 to 19 percent in 1997.

Each participating university was allowed 10 school-specific questions in the survey. Through its questions, Emory found that 57 percent of freshmen chose the University for its academic reputation, while another 28 percent felt they would "fit" here. Seventy-five percent said they did not-but would liked to have-"extensively toured the campus" before making their college choice.

Some of the more interesting trivia in the survey reveals:

  • 37 percent of Emory freshmen said they had overslept and missed a class or appointment within the last year;
  • 83 percent said they socialized with members of a different ethnic group;
  • 72 percent rated themselves above average or in the top 10th of their peers in "self-understanding," and 76 percent rated themselves similarly in understanding others;
  • 25 percent reported spending six to 10 hours per week studying;
  • 20 percent reported spending six to 10 hours per week partying;
  • 48 percent said they planned to be a physician, lawyer or business executive;
  • 2 percent planned to be an elementary or secondary school teacher.

-Michael Terrazas

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