Sharon M. Jones and William Sedlacek


Research Report #15-87


            Computer time for this research was furnished by The Computer Science Center at the University of Maryland, College Park.






The University of Maryland Counseling Center conducts an annual survey of incoming freshmen during summer orientation. The findings from these surveys provide the College Park campus community with a general profile of new students.

Surveys were completed by 1,346 freshmen who attended the two day summer orientation program. Unless otherwise noted, all findings will be reported according, to the overall sample. In addition, differences (p < .05) between males and females and racial differences will be reported.

The sample was equally comprised of males (50%) and females (50%). The majority of students were White (77%), while 11% were Black, 8% Asian and less than 1% were o American Indian/Alaskan.


The largest percentage (30%) of the incoming freshmen reported that they chose UMCP mainly because of its academic programs. Another 23% chose to attend UMCP because of its geographic location, 20% because of reasons not specified in the questionnaire and 17% because it was relatively inexpensive. Other reasons for choosing UMCP included: parent recommended (6%); friend attends (3%); relative recommended (2%); and because a high school teacher or counselor had recommended it (1%).


More males indicated that they chose UMCP because of its academic programs. Females were more likely to have chosen UMCP based upon a recommendation from a high school teacher/counselor or relative or because a friend attends or will attend. White students were more likely than Black and Asian students to have chosen UMCP because a friend attends.

Students were asked to indicate the one change which they believed would make UMCP more attractive to prospective students. The majority of students (26%) thought this would be accomplished by having smaller classes. Another 23% felt a smaller student body would make UMCP more attractive, while 13% thought lower costs would accomplish this goal. Ten percent of the incoming freshmen felt better parking would help, and 7% chose stronger academic programs.

More males than females felt that better parking would make UMCP more attractive to prospective students. Males were also more likely to choose stronger academic programs and lower costs as ways of improving UMCP, while females felt stronger that smaller classes would make UMCP more attractive. Whites were more likely than Blacks and Asians to select better parking and a smaller student body as ways to make to make UMCP more attractive. Blacks felt stronger than the other two groups that lower costs would accomplish this goal. Asian students selected better advising as a way of improving UMCP.


The majority of students (94%) agreed with the statement “I want a chance to prove myself academically." Five percent were


neutral with respect to this statement and less than 1% disagreed. Just over half the freshmen surveyed (52%) felt that their high school grades were no an accurate reflection of their abilities, while 28% felt that they were accurate. Twenty percent of the freshmen were neutral an this topic.

The incoming freshmen were nearly equally divided in their responses to the statement: "I expect to have a hard time adjusting to the academic work of college," with 32% in agreement, 32%-neutral and 24% disagreeing. Black students were more likely to disagree with this statement than were either White or Asian students. When the students were asked what they expected to be the hardest part of adjusting to college, academic-related concerns were most often cited: 30% chose time-management, 22% studying efficiently and 20% selected earning satisfactory grades. Getting to meet and know other students of both sexes (10%), selecting a major (8%), and meeting financial expenses (5%) were also seen as difficult adjustments. Females were more likely to see selecting a major and meeting expenses as the hardest part of adjusting to college. Males felt stronger that finding out who can provide help or answer questions, earning satisfactory grades, and meeting general university course requirements would be among the most difficult adjustments to college.

Consistent with the expressed concern over academic performance, 44% of the freshmen disagreed with the statement "It should not be very hard to get a B (3.0) average at UMCP. Twenty-three percent agreed with the statement while 33% were


neutral. However, the freshmen expressed a measure of optimism when considering their abilities in comparison to the average UMCP applicant. The majority (78%) agreed that "I am as skilled academically as the average applicant to UMCP."

Eighty-one percent of the incoming freshmen agreed that they would like to improve their note-taking skills, while 54% agreed that they were interested in counseling to help then study more efficiently and 54% agreed that they would regularly attend free course tutoring if it were available. White students were less likely, when compared to Black and Asian students, to express a need for improving their note-taking skills.

Seventy-five percent of the freshmen expected to learn as much out of class, as in class Whites were more likely than either the Black or Asian students to agree with this statement.

Eighty-seven percent of the students disagreed with the statement "Chances are good that I will drop out temporari1y before I complete a bachelor's degree." When students were asked to indicate what the most likely reason would be if they were to leave school before receiving a degree, 36% responded they were absolutely certain that they would obtain a degree, 20% reported the most likely reason would be to accept a good job, while 13% indicated the cost would be more than the student or their family could afford. Other reasons included disinterest in study (7%); lack of academic ability (5%); insufficient reading or study skills (3%); marriage (3%); and to enter military service (2%).

A majority of the students (44%) expected to earn a Master's degree, while 35% expected to earn a bachelor's and 20% planned to obtain a Ph.D., medical or law degree.



The majority of freshmen (32%) agreed with the statement "Everyone must work toward improving social conditions." Two percent disagreed with this statement and 16% were neutral. Similarly, half of those surveyed (50%) felt that "the University should use its influence to improve social conditions in the State," with 47% neutral on this topic. However, the students were considerably more divided toward the following statement: "If I encounter racism, I believe it is up to me to always point it out and correct it." Thirty-eight percent expressed agreement, 14% disagreed and 52% were neutral.

In response to “When I believe strongly in something, I act on it," 82% were in agreement, 2% disagreed and 16 % were neutral. Somewhat relatedly, 65% agreed that once they started something, they saw it to completion. Seven percent disagreed with this idea and 28% were neutral. Fifty-eight percent of the freshmen agreed that they did not like other people telling them what to do. Thirty-three percent were neural on this subject and 9% disagreed.

Forty-nine percent of the freshmen agreed that the best way to avoid problems is to take things one day at a time while 23% disagreed and 28% were neutral. Seventy-six percent of the freshmen were in agreement with the statement "I know the areas where I am weak and I try to improve them", with 3 percent in disagreement and 22 percent were neutral.

An overwhelming majority (85%) disagreed with the statement "There is no use in doing things for people; you only find that


you 'get it in the neck’  in the long run. Only 4% agreed with this idea and 11% were neutral. However, this did not necessarily transfer to participation in community work. While 39% indicated that they had not worked in many community projects, 31% indicated that either they had worked in many projects or were neutral with respect to the topic.


Eighty-one percent of the incoming freshman expected to participate in some form of physical recreation activities. Six percent indicated this was not in the plans and 14% were neutral.

Intramural sports was the extracurricular activity which interested the most of students (43 %), followed by communications, music/drama and special interest groups (all 12%). Males were more 1ikely to select intramural sports over other kinds of campus extracurricular activities. Females were more likely to endorse volunteer service, musical or dramatic organizations, political or social action groups, student publication/communications, or special interest groups.


Fifty-three percent of the students agreed that they would be interested in seeking counseling regarding educational or vocational concerns. Students tended to express much less interest in emotional and social counseling with only 18% of the


incoming freshmen agreeing they would be interested in this type of counseling.

In comparison to the Black and Asian students, Whites were more likely to express an interest in educational or vocational concerns. With respect to emotional and social counseling, Whites were more likely than Asian students to express an interest.