Profile of the University of Maryland Incoming Student Class, 2001 – 2002
Renee Baird Snyder and William E. Sedlacek
Research Report # 02 - 02
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Data Analysis 5
Gender, Age, Home Residence 5
Race and Ethnicity 6
High School Rank 6
Socio-Economic Status/First-Generation Students 7
Personal Orientation 8
Values Orientation 8
Goal Orientation 8
Problem Orientation 9
College Expectations and Preparation 10
Perceptions of the University of Maryland 10
Reasons for College 11
Reasons for Attending Maryland 12
Help-Seeking Expectations 15
Sexual Orientation 16
Educational Finances 17
Sending Money Home 17
Financial Aid: Satisfaction with Type of Aid,
Amount of Aid, and Application 17
Not Applying for Aid 18
Willingness to Borrow Money 18
Work Status and Reasons for Work 18
Focused Topics 20
Alcohol Use 20
On Demographics 21
On College and Maryland 22
On Fitting In 23
On Diversity 23
On Finances and Work 24
On Alcohol Use 25
On Self-Concept 25
This student profile was generated from the responses of 2991 incoming first-year students completing the University New Student Census during the 2001 summer orientation program. About half (52%) of the respondents were men and half were women. Most (94%) were 17 or 18 years old, and most (62%) were from Maryland. Students identified themselves as White (66%), Asian American (13%), Black/African American (11%), Hispanic (4%), and Native American (< 1%). In a separate measure, about 5% indicated they were biracial or multiracial. Nearly half (46%) identified themselves as Christian, 16% as Jewish and less than 1% each as Buddhist, Hindu, or Islamic. A third of the students identified themselves as agnostic, atheist, and “other” or expressed no preference. Thirteen percent reported they had some type of physical, medical, or learning disability. About a quarter of the students responding are first-generation college students. A third come from families with combined parental incomes of over $100,000 annually, while 16% are from families where the combined parental income is less than $50,000 annually. Most students will live on campus this year.
Students were asked a number of questions about their perceptions of Maryland. Most viewed Maryland as an institution where both research and teaching were given priority. They said Maryland is one of the best schools in the country, and most reported Maryland as their first choice of schools to attend. They indicated that they came to Maryland largely for its reputation among family members and friends, the reputation of Maryland’s academic programs, and for the geographic location of the campus. Students reported that the U.S. News and World Report College Rankings tended not to be important in their college decisions.
Most (99%) students said they expected to graduate in five years or less, and to go on for a post-graduate degree (82%). Top reasons for attending college were to gain an education, to prepare for graduate or professional school, or to get a better job.
Students said they would seek study skills training, time management training, and career counseling if needed. Over a third (41%) said they would seek personal counseling if necessary. By contrast, most would not consider alcohol/drug counseling while at Maryland.
Generally, students said they were looking forward to the racial diversity on campus, and that they had at least one close friend not of their own race. Over half of the students would feel comfortable or neutral having a roommate of a different sexual orientation than themselves, and over three-quarters would feel comfortable with a roommate of a different religion. About a third of the students said the University Diversity Initiative should include religious issues.
Most students applied for financial aid this year, and 43% expressed concern over their ability to finance their college education. Satisfaction with the financial aid process and with financial aid packages received rose from 2000 to 2001. More than half (53%) of the students expected to work while in college, many of them over 15 hours weekly.
Ninety-two percent of the students said they have done volunteer work. They were split over whether community service should be a graduation requirement, with 52% indicating it should not be and another 48% indicating neutral or positive views toward such a requirement.
Over 92% of the incoming students thought either that it was not okay to get drunk frequently or that it was not okay to get drunk if it caused problems with school or other responsibilities.
A Profile of the University of Maryland, College Park
Incoming Student Class, 2001 - 2002
The University of Maryland has administered the University New Student Census (UNSC), a survey of incoming first-year students, for over 40 years; it has been administered on-line since 1998. Data from the Census are used annually for a number of purposes, including the development of a profile of the first-year students. This student profile was generated from the responses of incoming first-year students completing the UNSC during the 2001 summer orientation program. The purpose of the profile summary is to provide campus faculty and staff with a descriptive view of current first-year students, including information gathered about their backgrounds, experiences, attitudes, expectations, and needs. Responses are summarized under eight basic headings, as noted below. A discussion of the general findings follows.
A confidential on-line survey was administered to incoming first-year students (N=2991, 52% men, 48% women) at the University of Maryland during their pre-entry orientation program. Students taking the survey were informed that participation was voluntary and that the information was intended to help the university anticipate services they might find helpful while in college. No incentive was offered for taking the survey, but it was scheduled for each orientation group during a designated session in their program.
The survey consisted of 91 items, including 54 Likert-scale items (5-point) and 37 multiple-choice items. Items are summarized below under eight basic headings: demographics; personal orientation; college expectations and preparation; help-seeking expectations; diversity; educational finances; work status and reasons for work; and focused topics. Additional student data (e.g., age, in-state or out-of-state residence) were imported from a University database to correspond with UNSC data.
Descriptive results of all 91 of the survey items and several items from the central University database are reported here. In Likert items percentages reflect agree (agree and strongly agree), disagree (disagree and strongly disagree), and neutral or satisfied (satisfied or strongly satisfied), dissatisfied (dissatisfied and strongly dissatisfied), and neutral. Due to rounding, or in a few cases not presenting neutral responses, some percentages may not sum to one hundred.
Gender, Age, Home Residence. Fifty-two percent of the respondents were men and forty-eight percent were women. Most respondents (94%) were 17 or 18 years old, but a few were younger (16=1%) or older (19=5%; 20+ = 1%). Sixty-two percent of the respondents were from Maryland.
Race and Ethnicity. Through the University database, students identified themselves as: 66% White; 13% Asian American; 11% Black or African American; 4% Hispanic; less than 1% Native American; and 5% did not respond. About 1% of these respondents reported being a “permanent resident” (.2%) or “foreign” (.9%). A somewhat different way of asking for the same data through the Census rather than in the University database highlighted nearly 5% of the students responding as multiracial (up from 3% who identified themselves this way last year), 4% as Asian Indian American, 4% as Chinese American, and nearly 3% as Korean American. In the UNSC race and ethnicity were treated separately. Six percent of the UNSC respondents said that they were Spanish/Hispanic/Latino, slightly higher than the 4% reported in the University database that listed only Hispanic as a related option in the single item regarding race and ethnicity.
Disability. Thirteen percent of the students reported some type of physical, medical, or learning disability, and 3% did not respond. The percentage of students self-identifying with disabilities rose 2% from last year, while the percentage of non-respondents dropped an equivalent amount.
Religion. Most students reported that they were Christian (46%) [Catholic, 25%; Protestant, 21%] or Jewish (16%). Nearly five percent reported their religious preference as Buddhist (1%), Hindu (2%) or Islamic (1%). Thirty-three percent identified other preferences: 16% no preference; 8% other; 5% agnostic; and 4% atheist.
High School Rank. Twenty-one percent of the students reported they ranked in the top 5% of their high school graduating class, and 26% in the top ten percent. Another 36% of the students ranked in the top quarter, and 16% in the top half. Less than 1% of the respondents reported being in the bottom half of their high school graduating class.
Socio-Economic Status/First-Generation Students. Responses to three questions may be viewed as indicators of socio-economic status for the incoming first year class: father’s education; mother’s education; and combined parental income. Additionally, father’s education, or a combination of father’s and mother’s educations may be viewed as indicators of first-generation student status. While most (74%) students reported that their fathers had at least a bachelor’s degree (33%), 26% of the students said their fathers had either not completed high school (2%), had a high school diploma or equivalent (18%), or had an associate’s degree (6%). Responses for mother’s education were similar but with a greater number who had not earned a bachelor’s degree (35%); 10% of the mothers without a bachelor’s degree were reported to have earned an associate’s degree. Sixty-five percent of the respondents said their mothers had a bachelor’s degree (36%) or higher.
Finally, 39% of the respondents indicated a combined annual parental income of over $100,000 (up from 36% last year), while 16% of the students said their parents earned less than $50,000 annually. Twenty-one percent of the respondents noted combined parental incomes of $50,000-$74,999, and 24% reported earnings of $75,000-$100,000, up 3% and 2% respectively from 2000.
Residence. Most (89%) students said they would live on campus this year, an increase of 3% from 2000, and 9% with parents or other relatives, down slightly from 10% in 2000. Dropping from 3% in 2000, less than 2% of the respondents said they would live in a fraternity or sorority house (.1%) or off campus (1.7%). About 32% of the respondents indicated they would participate in at least one special program (i.e., CIVICUS, College Park Scholars, Gemstone, Honors, International House, Hinman CEOs, and Language House).
Survey items reflected personal orientation in three primary areas: values, goals and problem orientation.
Values Orientation. Six items reflected the respondents’ general views of their values most directly. Most students (62%) indicated they have spent a lot of time and talked to a lot of people trying to develop a set of values that makes sense to them; 26% responded neutrally, and 12% of the respondents said they had not done this. Typically, the respondents (77%) said they operated according to the values with which they were raised, but 15% responded neutrally, and nearly 8% disagreed.
Three related survey items addressed firmness or flexibility of one’s values and the degree to which considering someone else’s perspective was important. Forty-two percent of the respondents indicated they thought it was better to consider alternative value systems than to have fixed values; 39% were neutral about this and 19% thought it was better to have fixed values. Likewise, the majority (61%) of respondents thought that being open minded was preferable to having a firm set of beliefs, while 29% were neutral and 10% disagreed. In a related item, 90% of the students responding said they try to understand other people’s perspectives, while 8% responded neutrally and less than 2% disagreed.
As another example of the degree of open mindedness or firmness, when students were asked to respond to the statement, “Regarding religion, I’ve always known what I believe and don’t believe; I never really had any serious doubts,” there was a fairly even division. Forty percent agreed and 36% disagreed. Twenty-four percent responded neutrally.
Goal Orientation. Three items concern goal orientation. Eighty-three percent of the students indicated they were thinking about their future and that it was not a long way off. On the other hand, 11% responded neutrally and about 6% said they disagreed, indicating they were not really thinking about their future and perceived it as somewhat distant. Similarly, most (89%) students responding said they have spent a great deal of time thinking seriously about what to do with their lives, whereas 17% were neutral and 5% responded they have not done this. When asked to respond to the item, “I’ve always had purpose in my life; I was brought up to know what to strive for,” 69% agreed, 21% responded neutrally, and 10% disagreed.
Problem Orientation. A number of items give indications of students’ problem-solving styles. Two items reflect the time students like to have for making decisions; one reflects the amount of information they prefer; one the level of decision avoidance; and two the level of concern they accord a problem or potential one.
Overall, most students (81%) said that when they have to make a decision they like to spend a lot of time thinking about their options, whereas 3% disagreed and 16% responded neutrally. A slightly different question found a more even distribution of responses. Thirty-two percent of the respondents indicated that when they have a decision to make, they want to “wait as long as possible in order to see what will happen.” About 33% of the respondents answered neutrally and 35% disagreed with the statement.
In terms of information gathering, 94% of the respondents indicated a preference for having “as much information as possible” when making important decisions, while 5% responded neutrally and less than 3% disagreed. Additionally, 88% of the respondents said that when they have a personal problem, they try to analyze the situation in order to understand it. Less than 5% disagreed with this idea, and 9% were neutral about it.
Three other items on the survey reflect level of avoidance or concern with a problem. Most (61%) students disagreed with the statement, “I try not to think about or deal with problems as long as I can,” seeming to demonstrate little avoidance. Twenty percent of the respondents were neutral on this item, and 19% disagreed, suggesting perhaps some avoidance.
Similar responses were given for each of two additional items. About 31% of the respondents agreed that sometimes if they refused to believe a problem would happen things would manage to work themselves out. Another 35% responded neutrally to this idea and 34% disagreed with it. A related statement suggested, “many times by not concerning myself with personal problems, they work themselves out.” Twenty-eight percent of the respondents agreed, 38% disagreed, and 34% responded neutrally.
College Expectations and Preparation
A number of items in the survey addressed students’ college expectations, perceptions, and preparation. They are categorized in five basic areas: perceptions of University of Maryland; reasons for college; retention/attrition; social; and career.
Perceptions of the University of Maryland. Four main items address the perceptions respondents had of the University regarding the priority of research and teaching, their views of Maryland nationally, and their ranked choice in attending Maryland. Seventy-seven percent of the respondents viewed Maryland as a university where research is a high priority; 22% responded neutrally, and 1% disagreed. Even more (84%) of the respondents indicated they viewed Maryland as a university where teaching is a high priority; 16% responded neutrally and less than 1% disagreed. Overall, 71% of the students responding indicated,
“University of Maryland is one of the best schools in the country;” 24% responded neutrally and 5% disagreed.
When asked what choice University of Maryland was for them as they entered it, most (58%) respondents said it was their first choice; 27% said it was their second choice; and 12% their third choice. About 3% of the students did not respond.
Reasons for College. Students were asked to rate from a list of responses their main reasons for deciding to go to college. Their most frequently (43%) identified reason was to “gain an education.” Another 20% said, “to prepare for graduate or professional school.” Seventeen percent identified as their main reason “to get a better job,” and another seventeen percent said that attending college was the “next logical step after high school.” Less than 3% total responded that their main reason for college was “to learn critical thinking skills”
(< 1%), “my parents expect it of me” (< 2%), or “other” (< 2%).
Similarly, students were asked to rate from a list of responses their most important current educational objective. Most frequently cited (34%) was to “gain skills directly applicable to a career.” Twenty-three percent cited “direction for career or life’s work,” and 21% said “intellectual interests and appreciation of ideas.” Eight percent ranked “independence in my thinking and behavior” highest, 4% said “other,” 3% cited “ability to get along with different kinds of people” and 3% “a satisfying philosophy of life.” Three percent of the students cited two other reasons, “confidence in taking a stand on things I believe in” (2%) or “interest in and appreciation of the arts” (1%).
On a different note, students were asked to respond to the statement, “I thought seriously about not going to college.” While 87% disagreed with this statement, 6% were neutral in their responses, and 7% agreed with it.
Reasons for Attending Maryland. There were three items that more directly addressed why students chose University of Maryland. From a list of ten reasons, students identified their main reason for choosing Maryland. Their reasons fell into three primary categories: Reputation, resources, and personal or program related. Reputation based reasons were most commonly cited (44%). Respondents indicated both recommendations from family and friends (12%) and reputation of the school or program (32%) as two of their most noted reasons for attending. Resource based reasons were next most commonly cited (33%). In this context, geographical location (13%) was another of the top three overall reasons for choosing Maryland. Ten percent of the respondents said the relatively inexpensive cost of attending Maryland was their main reason. Seven percent identified that they were offered a scholarship as their main reason, 2% the size of the institution, and less than 1% the availability of financial aid. Finally, personal or program related reasons were cited by 23% of the respondents. Eleven percent said their main reason was because Maryland offered the kind of academic program they wanted, and 9% said because they were admitted to a special program (e.g., Honors, College Park Scholars, etc.) Finally, 2% of the respondents said that opportunity to play sports was their main reason for attending Maryland.
Two separate items asked more targeted reputation-related questions about reasons for attending Maryland. Thirty-five percent of the respondents indicated that the U.S. News and World Report College Rankings were important in their college decisions, while 25% responded neutrally and 35% indicated they were not important. When asked to respond to the statement, “I came to Maryland because of the success of one or more of the University’s athletic teams, most (70%) students disagreed, 18% responded neutrally, and 13% agreed.
Most students (84%) responding indicated they anticipated receiving their bachelor’s degree in 4 years, 9% in five years, 6% in less than 4 years, and 1% in more than five years. Less than 1% said they might not finish.
Ninety-two percent of the respondents indicated they expected to get a degree from Maryland, but 6% responded neutrally and less than 2% did not expect to get a degree from Maryland. A similar item asked students to select from a list of five options where they planned to complete their bachelor’s degree. Answers were somewhat different than for the previously noted item: 84% said Maryland; 13% said they did not know or were not sure; 2% said at another school that has a more prestigious academic reputation than Maryland. Less than 1% each indicated they would complete it at another school where they would feel more comfortable and happier, or at a school that offers degrees not offered at Maryland.
Although 92% of the respondents indicated chances were good that they would not drop out of school temporarily before completing their bachelor’s degree, 2% thought chances were good that they would, indeed, drop out temporarily and 7% were unsure or neutral. More specifically, students were asked what would be the most likely cause of their leaving school before receiving their degree. Forty-five percent indicated certainty they would obtain the degree. Nearly 19% of the respondents reported “other,” making this category cited most frequently. Additional reasons fell into three areas: other life priorities; disinterest or lack of ability; and finances. The two top reasons were to accept a good job (15%) or because attending school would cost more than the student/family could afford (13%). Responses categorized as other life priorities were to enter military service (1%) or for marriage (2%). Reasons related to personal ability or interest were disinterest in study (3%); lack of academic ability (2%); and insufficient reading or study skills (1%).
Social. Items addressing expectations for integrating socially on campus generally are included here, as are those in two specific areas of social involvement. Sixty-one percent of the respondents said they did not expect to have a hard time adjusting to the social life in college; however, 16% indicated they did expect to have a hard time and 22% responded neutrally. Likewise, 54% of the students indicated they were not concerned about their ability to fit in at Maryland, but 26% said they were, and 21% responded neutrally.
Involvement in two specific types of social outlets was addressed. Forty-two percent of the respondents said they closely follow one or more of the University of Maryland’s athletic teams, but 21% responded neutrally, and 38% said they did not. Although 45% of the respondents indicated they do not expect to be involved in religious activities on campus, 26% do expect to be involved in this way and 29% were neutral.
Career. When asked to select from a list those priorities most important to them in their long-term career choice, students identified four primary ones: high anticipated earnings (28%); intrinsic interest in the field (22%); the ability to make an important contribution to society (14%); and to be in a well-respected or prestigious occupation (12%). Other views were the possibility of rapid career advancement (7%); working with people (6%); that job openings were usually available (5%); and a great deal of independence (4%). Cited by less than 2% of the respondents was the ability to work with ideas, and by less than 1% was the ability to avoid pressure.
Students responded to a number of items regarding their anticipated intentions for seeking assistance with academic, personal, and career concerns.
Academic help-seeking behavior was addressed in two areas, specifically time management and study skills. Fifty-five percent of the respondents would consider seeking study skills training while at Maryland, 14% would not, and 31% responded neutrally. Similarly, 48% would consider time management training if available, 20% would not, and 32% responded neutrally.
Two additional items addressed help-seeking behavior. One was regarding personal concerns in general and one was regarding more specific alcohol/drug issues. Forty-one percent of the respondents said they would consider seeking counseling for personal concerns, 37% were neutral in response, and 22% disagreed. On the other hand, most (64%) of the respondents said they would not consider seeking counseling for alcohol/drugs while at Maryland, 7% would consider it, and 29% responded neutrally.
Finally, over 86% of the respondents would consider seeking counseling regarding career plans, even though 11% were neutral about this and 3% said they would not.
A single general diversity item was presented in the survey. Students were asked whether or not they were looking forward to meeting people different from themselves at the University of Maryland. Over 90% agreed that they were, while 8% responded neutrally and just over 1% disagreed. Areas of race, sexual orientation, and religion are also reflected in this section.
Race. When asked specifically to agree or disagree with the statement, “I am looking forward to the racial diversity on campus,” 75% of the students agreed that they were looking forward to the racial diversity. This percentage is an increase of 6% over 2000 data (69%); 23% of the respondents this year were neutral and nearly 3% disagreed. On a more personal level, 60% of the respondents said most of their friends were of their own race; 18% responded neutrally and 22% disagreed. However, 70% of them were also able to state that they had a close friend not of their own race, though 18% indicated they did not and 12% responded neutrally. Finally, although 78% of the respondents indicated they did not often feel irritated by persons of a different race, 5% acknowledged they often did feel irritated in this way; 17% responded neutrally.
Sexual Orientation. A single item addressed this topic. When asked their responses to the statement “I would feel comfortable having a roommate of a different sexual orientation,” 45% disagreed, 27% were neutral, and 28% agreed that they would feel comfortable.
Religion. Six items addressing students’ religious views, perceptions, and cross-religion relationships are highlighted here. Approximately one third of the students considered themselves spiritual but not religious (34%), while 28% were neutral about this, and 39% disagreed. When asked if the University Diversity Initiative should include religious issues, 37% said it should, 17% said it should not, and 46% were neutral.
Forty-eight percent of the respondents, 3% more than last year’s data reflected, indicated a perception that religious prejudice is more tolerated in society than racial prejudice; 19% disagreed, and 33% were neutral. Relating to issues closer to campus, students were asked to respond to the statement, “Christian students will enjoy extra privileges on campus compared to their non-Christian counterparts.” Most (68%) students disagreed, indicating they did not believe Christian students would enjoy extra privileges. However, 26% responded neutrally, and 6% agreed with the statement.
In terms of their personal relationships, 50% of the students said that most of their friends were not the same religion as they were, while 26% said their friends were mostly their same religion, and 24% responded neutrally. Almost 80% of the students said they would feel comfortable having a roommate of a different religion. Five percent said they would not and 15% were neutral.
Forty-three percent of the respondents expressed concern over their ability to finance their college education. Sixty-eight percent of the respondents applied for financial aid.
Sending Money Home. When asked if they expected to send money home during their first year at Maryland, 91% said no, 8% said yes, and 1% did not respond. Students were asked next: “If yes: What proportion of what you earn/receive in financial aid will you send home?” Nearly 19% said they would be sending money home, in contrast to the 8% who responded affirmatively in the previous question. Of this group, 13% indicated they would send home less than a quarter; 3% said they would send home 26-50%, 1% said 51-75% and over 2% said they would send home 76-100%.
Financial Aid: Satisfaction with Type of Aid, Amount of Aid and Application. Thirty-one percent of the students responding who applied for aid said they were satisfied with the application process. Another 44% responded neutrally, and 26% indicated dissatisfaction with the process. Twenty-seven percent of those students responding were satisfied with the type of aid they received, 39% expressed dissatisfaction, and 34% expressed a neutral opinion. When asked if they were satisfied with the amount of financial aid they received, 23% were satisfied, 46% were dissatisfied and 30% indicated a neutral opinion. Satisfaction with the application process rose this year by 8%, and satisfaction with the type of aid rose 9% over 2000 data.
Not Applying for Financial Aid. Students who did not apply for financial aid were asked to indicate why they did not apply. Seven options were provided and students could indicate as many as they wanted. The most often (61%) selected reason they did not apply was because they thought they would not qualify for aid. Another 23% indicated multiple responses. Seven percent said they were interested only in scholarships. Four percent missed the deadline. Other reasons included unwillingness to go into debt (2%), parents’ unwillingness to provide financial information (2%), not knowing aid was available (1%), and the application process was too difficult (1%).
Willingness to Borrow Money. Students were asked how much money they and their families would be willing to borrow toward the total cost of obtaining the student’s undergraduate degree. Fifty percent did not know and 18% said none at all. Other rankings were: $5000-$9999 (9%); less than $5000 (8%); $20,000 or more (7%); $10,000-14,999 (6%); and $15,000-$19,999 (3%).
Over 53% of the respondents said they plan to work. Of those who expect to work, most will work off campus (17%), another 16% will work on campus in a non work-study job, and 12% will work in a federally funded work-study job. Less than 1% will work for academic credit as part of a department program. Nearly 8% will work using a combination of two or more of these options.
Students were asked how many hours they would be working while in a part-time job. Twenty-five percent did not have a job yet and so did not know, and 40% did not plan to seek employment. Responses for anticipated number of work hours per week were as follows:
10-14 hours (12%); 1-9 hours (11%); 15-19 hours (7%); and over 20 hours weekly (> 6%, including about 1% who would work nearly full-time).
The survey listed eight reasons for students to identify as major or minor for their working, or not a reason for them. Major reasons for the students to work while in college were to earn extra money (e.g., for clothes, gas) (63%); gain job experience related to one’s academic major (41%); and to help pay for tuition and books (37%). Other major reasons were to gain general job experience (28%); for career exploration (30%); and for career networking (24%).
Most frequently rated as minor reasons for the students to work while in college were to gain general job experience (47%); career exploration (37%); career networking (36%); and gaining job experience related to one’s academic major (32%). Additional reasons cited highly were to help pay for tuition and books (28%); to earn extra money (e.g., for clothes, gas) (27%); and to help meet personal or family obligations (26%).
In fact, 37% of the students cited meeting personal or family obligations as either a major or minor reason to work. Similarly, sending money home was rated a major or minor reason to work by 15% of the respondents. Although these were not reasons for the majority of students, they are important reasons for a substantial number of them.
Two or three items addressed each of three areas, volunteerism, attitudes toward drinking alcohol, and self-concept, and are addressed below.
Volunteerism. Most (92%) of the students said they have done volunteer work. When asked if community service should be a graduation requirement, 52% said it should not be, and another 48% said it should (20%) or were neutral (28%).
Alcohol Use. Students were asked to select one of five statements that most reflected their attitudes about drinking alcoholic beverages. The statements ranged from attitudes about lowest risk alcohol use (none at all) to highest risk alcohol use (frequently drunk). Using the same statements, they were also asked to identify what they perceived as the attitude of “most other students at Maryland.” All summary responses illustrated that the students viewed themselves as having lower risk drinking attitudes than they perceived most Maryland students to have. For example, nearly 11% of the students said that, “drinking is never okay,” but they perceived 1% of most other students at Maryland as having this attitude. Similarly, 6% of the students said that, “frequently getting drunk is okay if that is what a person chooses to do.” However, they thought that 21% of most other students at Maryland felt this way. These examples demonstrate a higher risk attitude for most other students than for the individual respondent.
The other three responses highlight a similar low risk personal attitude and higher risk attitude held by other students. Twenty-three percent of the individuals said, “drinking is alright, but a person should never drink enough to get drunk,” but they thought only 4% of most other Maryland students held this attitude. A more even distribution was found in the mid-range attitude, but it still reflected a lower risk personal-higher risk other pattern. Nearly 59% of individuals said, “getting drunk sometimes is okay as long as it doesn’t cause problems with school or other responsibilities,” but respondents said nearly 62% of most other Maryland students felt this way. Finally, fewer than 2% of the students said they thought “getting drunk sometimes is okay even if it does cause problems with school or other responsibilities.” However, they said nearly 13% of other Maryland students thought this.
Self-Concept. Three items in the survey directly examined one’s self-concept. Although 72% of the respondents indicated they did not have problems making friends, 10% said that they did, and 19% responded neutrally. In another item, 32% of the students regarded themselves as shy, though 43% of them did not and 26% were neutral. A final item in this area asked students whether they felt good about themselves. Eight-five percent said they did, while 3% said they did not and 13% responded neutrally.
Highlights from the profile are presented here in seven categories: demographics; college and Maryland; fitting in; diversity; alcohol use; self-concept. Although some discussion is general, most of it is focused primarily around areas to explore regarding student concerns or primary issues.
It is noteworthy that in the UNSC 6% of the respondents self-identified as Spanish/Hispanic/Latino versus the 4% who self-identified as Hispanic in the University database. Also of note is the two percent rise (from 3% to 5%) of students self-identifying as multiracial over 2000 UNSC data. Investigation of this phenomenon and a decision about the most appropriate way to gather the data is recommended.
As was true last year, about a quarter of the students responding may be characterized as first-generation college students, a substantial number. Well over a third of the students come from homes with combined annual parental incomes of over $100,000, a slight rise from last year. At the same time, more than a third of the students reported being from families whose parents earn less than $75,000 annually, and, like last year, 16% of them earn less than $50,000 annually. The implications for students with limited financial resources attending college in an institution with so many affluent students merits examination.
Concurrent with a 3% rise in the number of students expecting to live on campus is the drop in the number of students expecting to live with parents or relatives, in off-campus apartments, or in a fraternity or sorority house. This may reflect both student choice and increased availability of on-campus housing. Greater depth in understanding student housing choices can be examined to inform University planning and priorities.
Students’ views of Maryland were largely positive in the Census. Most students viewed Maryland as one of the best schools in the country and ranked it as their first choice to attend, potentially influencing their overall satisfaction with their experience here. The majority of them saw Maryland as a University where research and teaching were both of high priority. Students indicated they chose Maryland because of its reputation as well as its resources, geographical location, and academic programs. Interestingly, only about one third of the respondents said that the U.S. News and World Report College Rankings were important in their college decisions. Additionally, the great majority of students did not come to Maryland because of the success of one or more or the University athletic teams.
A number (77%) of students thought seriously about not going to college. Knowing more about these students could be important to aiding their success. Most students indicated they decided to attend college either to gain an education, to prepare for graduate or professional school, or to get a better job. More than 82% of them expected to earn a degree beyond the bachelor’s and less than 1% expected not to graduate. Ninety-nine percent of the respondents expected to graduate in five years or less.
Most students expected to get their degree from Maryland. A number (13%) of them indicated they might have to drop out temporarily due to the cost of attending college. Further examination of this group of students might provide early intervention to potential financial crisis. Although small in number (N=149, 5%), some students indicated that a lack of interest, skill, or ability might contribute to their dropping out of school before completing a degree. Understanding this group of students and assisting them in developing in these ways might help them finish school successfully.
Most students expected to fit in and were not concerned with adjusting to social life in college, but a quarter expressed concerns over fitting in. By understanding this population better, the University might be able to assist their successful adjustment, whether through academic or social means.
Even though most students indicated they were looking forward to the racial diversity on campus and had one or more friends not of their own race, many were also neutral about this diversity or not looking forward to it. A small group of students (5%) reported often feeling irritated by persons of a different race. Nearly half of the respondents said they thought that religious prejudice was more tolerated in society than racial prejudice. About two thirds of the respondents did not think Christian students would enjoy extra privileges on campus. It is noteworthy that over half of the students said they would feel comfortable or neutral about having a roommate of a different sexual orientation than their own. Over three-quarters said they would feel comfortable having a roommate of a different religion. Further study of these issues could aid in creating a healthier campus environment for all students.
Many students (43%) said they were concerned about their ability to finance their college education, and most (53%) will work while in college. A third of the students were satisfied with the financial aid application process, 27% with the type of aid and about a quarter with the amount of aid they received. Satisfaction with process and type of aid rose. Closer examination of differences in aid packages and for what types of circumstances could be valuable in understanding these increases.
About a third of the students said they and/or their families would be willing to borrow money to obtain their undergraduate degree, while 50% did not know if they would and 18% said they would not borrow any money at all. For a great number of students whose families might be willing to borrow, it seems the opportunity to borrow may be missed if they are unaware. Family and community education might assist with making sure there is not a missed opportunity for funding.
Fifteen percent of the respondents said that sending money home is a reason to work while they are in college. Gaining an understanding of this group of students and their circumstances could assist the University in helping them stay in school to complete a degree, even in the face of family financial obligations.
Often students who have low risk attitudes toward using alcohol do not recognize that other students have similar negative attitudes toward high risk drinking. Creating ways to convey the message that they are not alone in their views may be important in helping students with low-risk attitudes maintain those views and make low-risk choices. A key message to entering students based on this data is that over 92% of them think that getting drunk frequently or getting drunk if it causes problems with school or other responsibilities is not okay.
While most of the students expressed positive views of themselves and a lack of difficulty in making friends, some (3%) indicated they did not feel good about themselves and some (10%) said that they have a hard time making friends. Exploration of other survey responses that correlate with these could aid faculty and staff in understanding and supporting this population as they transition to college.