University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland
ATTITUDES, PERCEPTIONS, AND BEHAVIORS OF ENTERING
STUDENTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, 1997
Carolina Quinonez and William E. Sedlacek
Research Report # 2-98
Computer time for this project was provided by Academic Information and Technology Services at the University of Maryland.
University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland
Attitudes, Perceptions, and Behaviors of Entering Students
At the University of Maryland, 1997
Carolina Quinonez and William E. Sedlacek
Research Report #2-98
The following profile was compiled from the responses of 3271 incoming freshmen at the University of Maryland during the 1997 summer orientation. Fifty-two percent of the sample was male and 48% was female. Sixty-seven percent of these students identified as (non-Hispanic) Caucasian and 33% represented ethnic/racial minority groups, with African-American and Asian/Asian-American/Pacific Islander comprising the larger minority groups (12% and 13%, respectively). Most of the students lived in residence halls. A smaller percentage lived with their parents.
Just over half the sample felt that high school prepared them for college. Most intended to continue on to post-graduate training after completing their bachelors degree or professional training. The majority of the incoming students considered that their parents were most influential in their decision to come to the University of Maryland. Most of them indicated that their most important current educational goal was to decide upon a career objective or learn skills directly applicable to their career goals.
While almost three quarters of incoming freshman students stated that they would be using their own computers while at Maryland, four out of five students reported that they would be using campus computing resources. Participation in sports and athletic activities were expected to be an important part of these students' lives at Maryland. The area they would be most interested in seeking help for was counseling regarding educational and career plans. More than half of the incoming freshman claimed that they discuss topics of cultural awareness with their peers and most of them looked forward to meeting persons of different cultures at Maryland.
ATTITUDES, PERCEPTIONS, AND BEHAVIORS OF ENTERING STUDENTS
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, 1997
The University New Student Census was administered to 3271 incoming freshmen during their summer orientation to the University. Fifty-two percent of the sample was male and 48% was female. Most of these students were 17 (37 0) or 18 (60 0) years of age at the time they completed the survey. Their racial/ethnic composition was mainly Caucasian (670). The largest racial/ethnic minority groups represented by this class were African-American (120), and Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander (130). This was followed by Hispanic/Latino (4%) and Native American/American Indian/Alaskan native (<I%) Two percent of the students reported being biracial or multiracial and another 2% responded "other". Ten percent indicated that they had some form of physical or learning disability.
The majority of incoming freshmen (85%) lived in residence halls or with their parents (130). Most had their health insurance covered by their parents (780). Three percent had no health insurance coverage and 9% did not know their health insurance status. Seventeen percent of the responding students reported ranking in the top fifth of their class in high school; 2301 in the top tenth; 37o in the top quarter; and 2015 in the upper half of
their graduating class. Two percent ranked in -he lower half and less than 1 % in the bottom quarter I-A their graduating class in high school.
The principal reasons incoming freshmen had for going to college were: (a) because it was the next logical step after high school (28%) , (b) to get a better job (19%) , (c) to prepare for graduate school (16%), and (d) for general self-development (14%). Other popular responses included to gain a general education (l0%) and to make more money (7%). Most of the students would like to go on for a post-graduate degree. Forty-fivE2 percent reported the intention of obtaining a masters degree, 20% a doctorate, 11% a medical degree and 6 % a law degree. Only 16 % reported that the bachelors was the highest degree they intended on obtaining.
Adjustment to College
Over half of the sample (630) felt that high school prepared them well for college. Twelve percent felt high school did not prepare them well for college and a quarter were neutral.
Thirty-eight percent strongly agreed (7%) or agreed (31%) with the statement, "I expect to have a hard time adjusting to the academic work of college." Another 34% neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement. The remaining 28% disagreed (15%) or strongly disagreed (7%) with it. Only 13% of incoming students indicated that they expect to be lonely during their freshman year. Nineteen
percent did not agree or disagree with the expectation. The majority (680) did not expect to be lonely during freshman year.
Recruitment and Retention
When asked who, other than themselves, was most influential in their decision to attend the University of Maryland, almost half (48%) indicated it was their patents. Twelve percent suggested it was other Maryland students, and l0% mentioned other family members. High school students were most influential for another 8%.
The main reason one fourth of these students decided to attend the University of Maryland was because it offered the kind of academic program they sought. The next two most popular responses involved its relatively inexpensive cost (19%), and its geographical location. The reputation of a specific program or school (11%) and the honors program (12%) both attracted a large share of the freshman student population. When asked how they related to the statement, "The University of Maryland is one of the best universities in the county", 13% strongly agreed, 43% agreed, 35% felt neutral, 8% disagreed, and 2% strongly disagreed. Over forty percent (42%) indicated that they followed one or more of Maryland's athletic teams and a third of the respondents indicated that they did not.
Almost one quarter of the incoming freshmen (23%) felt the most likely reason why they would remain at the university until completion of their degree would be to get a better job. Another
22% believed that a college degree is the only way to Winter their chosen profession. Twenty-two percent also saw obtaining their degree as a necessary step to graduate or professional school. Twelve percent responded that their motivation stemmed from selfrespect. Eight percent reported being motivated by the notion that college graduates make more money and only 4o because they enjoyed studying and academic work..
When asked what would be the most likely reason they would leave the university before receiving a degree, 400 of the students responded that they were absolutely certain they would receive the degree. Seventeen percent mentioned cost would be the most likely reason they would leave prior to graduation. Fifteen percent would leave school to accept a good job and 9% would leave due to disinterest in their field of study.
Most of the new freshmen have had work experience in the past. Thirty-five percent reported having worked at least part-time during the school year and full-time during the summer, while another 285s worked part-time both during the school year and the summer. Twenty-four percent indicated that they had held summer employment solely. Four percent each reported having done volunteer work only, or never having had a job. One percent of the respondents indicated that they had had full-time employment before returning to school.
When asked about employment plans during their first year at the university, 45% indicated they did not intend to work. Almost one in five (19%) indicated they would work off-campus. Eleven percent planned on working in a federally-funded work/study program and another 12% expected to be employed in other on-campus work. Twelve percent of the respondents noted that their work status during their freshman year would involve more than one of the given options.
At the time they completed the survey, almost a quarter of the students (24%) did not have a job lined up but they hoped to find one. Ten percent of the students expected to work 10 hours a week; 8% expected to work less than 10 hours per week; 6% expected to work between 15 and 19 hours per week; 5% expected to work between 20 and 29 hours per week; and 4% expected to work variable odds and ends jobs during their freshman year. While 78% believed their staying in school was not dependent on working at least part-time, over a fifth (22%) of these students believed they will need to work to remain enrolled in school.
Educational and Vocational Expectations
Immediately after college, one third of the students intended to go into full-time graduate training. Twenty-six percent indicated they expected to work full-time. Another 12% expected to work full-time for a while before proceeding to graduate or professional school. Just over one fifth of the students (21%) reported being undecided at this time. Four percent of the
respondents believed they would work part-time while taking additional courses and another 18% 3% reported their intention to travel immediately post graduation.
Currently, almost half (47%) of incoming freshman students reported that learning skills directly applicable to their career goals was their most important educational objective. Others reported deciding upon a career goal (20%) and becoming independent in their thinking and behavior (14%) was their principal educational goal at the time.
Twenty-seven percent of the respondents regarded having an intrinsic interest in the field as being most important to them in their long-term career choice. Other top choices included: (a) high anticipated earnings (20%), (b) making an important contribution to society (14%), and (c) acquiring respect and prestige (13%). Personal finances (21%) and managing time (29%) were reported by half of this year's incoming students as being the one major barrier to their meeting their career goals. Others indicated limited job availability (14%), lack of motivation (13%), and lack of direction (11%) as being the single major obstacle to reaching career goals.
Eight in ten incoming freshmen reported an interest in seeking counseling regarding career plans and only 50 of them denied any interest in vocational/career counseling. In contrast, 38% of the respondents expressed an interest in counseling regarding social or emotional concerns, and 27% denied an interest in such services. Most students (71%) denied any interest in seeking counseling for problems with alcohol, but 6% expressed interest.
Forty-two percent of the responding students preferred to handle academic problems on their own. Still, more than half (55%) expressed interest in taking study skills training while on campus and only few (13%) did not profess any interest. Half of incoming freshman students would consider seeking time management training while at Maryland. Only 16% claimed they would not be interested in such training. Thirty-six percent would consider seeking stress management training while at Maryland and 26% would not.
More than half of the incoming freshman students reported agreeing (40%) or strongly agreeing (15%) that they discuss topics related to cultural awareness with their friends. However, 27% of them reportedly do not address such subjects with their friends. Forty-six percent of these students agreed that most of their friends are of their own race, with another 15% agreeing strongly with this statement. Sixteen percent were neutral. Another 15% disagreed and 7% strongly disagreed, suggesting that most of their friends are of a different racial/ethnic background than their own.
Sixty-six percent of the students reported having a close friend of a different race. Still, more than one fifth of the incoming class disagreed (16%) or strongly disagreed (6%) with the statement that they had a close friend of a different race. Most students (91%) expressed that they looked forward to meeting people different from themselves at Maryland and only 1% denied any interest in meeting people of diverse backgrounds. Thirty percent of the students reported being able to speak a language other than English well. More than half (51%), however, indicated they did not speak another language well.
Nine percent stated they would not want to become friends with a lesbian or a gay man because they do not approve of their sexual orientation. Another 9% said they would not because they would feel too uncomfortable. Forty percent stated that even though it would cause discomfort, they might be interested in becoming friends with a gay man or lesbian. Thirteen percent expressed that they would like to become friends with a lesbian or gay man. Twenty-nine percent reported having gay and lesbian friends.
Nineteen percent of the respondents strongly agreed and 28% agreed that religion is important in their lives. Twenty-seven percent of the students did not consider religion as being a significant aspect of their lives. Most (90%) consider themselves tolerant of other religions. Twenty-nine percent strongly agreed and 52% agreed that they are aware of the beliefs of religions other than their own. Fifteen percent reported feeling comfortable being or becoming part of a small, non-traditional religious group,
and more than half (51%) of the incoming freshman class indicated they would not feel comfortable belonging to such a group.