Opinions of freshmen revealed

By Vickie Snow

A recent annual survey revealed how entering freshmen applying to college feel about topics ranging from drug testing to intended majors.

The American Council on Education and the University of California at Los Angeles conducted the survey of more than 216,000 students from about 400 two-year and four-year colleges across the country, said NIU Testing Services Director Norman Gilbert.

The study gives information “to better define the student population” in terms of student services and instruction, Gilbert said.

The annual study reported information about parents’ education, living preferences and opinions on topics such as abortion and drinking.

The 1989 data show students’ parents, 50 percent of the mothers and 40 percent of the fathers, had no college experience, he said.

Gilbert highlighted differences among incoming freshmen between fall 1989 and fall 1988:

In 1989, 69 percent of freshmen said they thought abortion should be legalized compared to 59 percent in 1988.

Employers do have the right to conduct drug tests according to 76 percent of 1989 freshmen and 69 percent of 1988 freshmen.

More 1989 freshmen, 15.5 percent, than 1988 freshmen, 10.9 percent, said they would prefer living in a sorority or fraternity house.

Although the results are similar to past years, the report is as important for areas that remain relatively constant as for areas that are always changing, Gilbert said.

Areas with slight changes on a yearly basis reveal more in long-range testing, he said.

One way the information is used is to better introduce freshmen to college life because college is a “totally new experience,” Gilbert said.

Other differences between 1989 and 1988 data include slight changes in intended majors.

In 1988 more freshmen wanted to be accountants, business managers and engineers than in 1989, and the number of undecided majors increased in 1989, according to the study.

The study also stated more freshmen in 1989 said one reason they went to college was because their parents wanted them to go.

More freshmen chose NIU as their first choice in 1989 than in 1988 because NIU has a good academic reputation, a good graduates’ success rate and low tuition, according to the study.

NIU pays $210 for an institutional participation fee plus $1 per student surveyed for the ACE study, Gilbert said. In return, NIU receives reports about undecided majors, individual reports for colleges and a national report, he said.

The college reports give information about “the kinds of students that are projected to come into the college,” Gilbert said.

He said the survey also could be a source of future information because 90 percent of those surveyed were willing to give permission for additional research purposes.

NIU has been participating in the ACE study, which originated in 1966, since 1975, he said.