Profile of the American Freshman
A recent survey of more than 200,000 first-time, full-time students reveals some of the characteristics that students bring with them to college. The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2011 shows that incoming students
- Are more academically oriented. Compared with the last administration of the survey in 2010, more students reported that they studied six or more hours a week on average in high school (39.5 percent, up from 37.3 percent), and fewer reported being "frequently" bored (36.4 percent, down from 39.2 percent). Also, the percentage of students taking at least one advanced placement course in high school rose slightly, from 67.9 percent in 2009 (when the question was last asked) to 71 percent in 2011.
- Choose to go to college to improve their job prospects. This was the number-one reason students gave for attending college (85.9 percent). Other reasons given were "to learn more that interests me" (82.9 percent); "to get training for a specific career" (77.6 percent); "to be able to make more money" (71.7 percent); and "to gain a general education and appreciation of ideas" (72.4 percent).
- Have challenges financing their education. Fewer students reported receiving scholarships (69.5 percent, down from 73.4 percent in 2010). More students reported taking out larger loans, with 13.3 percent indicating that they expected to use $10,000 or more in loans to help cover their first year of college. Major concerns about financing their education were most prevalent among students entering private historically black colleges and universities, with 22.1 percent of respondents not sure that they will have enough funds to complete college.
Prepared by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) at the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, the report is available at http://heri.ucla.edu/PDFs/pubs/TFS/Norms/Monographs/TheAmericanFreshman2011.pdf.
Build Them, and They Will Come
India has projected that it needs to build 50,000 colleges and 1,000 universities over the next 10 years to educate 100 million of its young people. One-half of India's 1.2 billion people are under the age of 25, unlike China, Europe, and other major economies that have aging populations and shrinking workforces. Many of the new schools will be virtual and integrated with workplaces. By comparison, the total number of colleges in the United States—including two-year institutions—is 4,200.
Getting Students to "We the People"
Looking for some great resources to teach students about how citizens participate in a democracy? The Center for Civic Education provides materials that not only bring historic moments alive but also enable students to experience civic involvement themselves. Here's what you'll find:
- Engaging multimedia resources. A series of podcasts offer lessons on citizenship throughout history; stories of students participating in local public policymaking; and interviews with firsthand participants in important civic events, such as Janice Kelsey, who describes taking part in the 1963 Children's March against segregation.
- The center's "We the People" curriculum. This curriculum helps students understand how America's constitutional democracy operates. A limited number of classroom sets of the related textbook (with a version for upper elementary, middle school, and high school) as well as sample lessons and primary sources are available free.
- Civics-related units. Lesson plans address such questions as, Why do we need authority? and What are the consequences of privacy? The curriculum "Citizens, Not Spectators" takes students through registering and voting in a simulated election.
Numbers of Note
46 The percentage of U.S. young adults surveyed who say they have the education necessary to get ahead in their job or career.
49 The percentage of U.S. young adults surveyed who have taken a job they didn't want just to pay the bills.
24 The percentage of U.S. young adults surveyed who have moved back in with their parents after living on their own.
Source: Pew Research Center. (2012). Young, underemployed, and optimistic: Coming of age, slowly, in a tough economy. Washington, DC: Author. Administered in December 2011, the survey involved 808 young adults (ages 18 to 34).
Crazy U: One Dad's Crash Course in Getting His Kid into Collegeby Andrew Ferguson (Simon and Schuster, 2011)
Does the competition to get into a top college pressure high school students to build an impressive résumé instead of exploring their passions? Why does college cost so much, and is it still a worthwhile investment? In this humorous first hand account of the "surreal rituals" of the college application process, Andrew Ferguson not only speaks to parents of high school seniors, but also sheds light on the values and assumptions that shape the way we guide young people into their post secondary paths.
"You'll hear that the SAT can wreck a person's future, even if only temporarily, or salvage a bright future from a misspent past. The SAT can enforce class hierarchies or break them open; it unfairly allocates society's spoils and sorts the population into haves and have-nots, or it can unearth intellectual gifts that our nation's atrocious high schools have managed to keep buried. It is a tool of understanding, a cynical hoax, a triumph of social science, a jackboot on the neck of the disadvantaged. Rarely, however, is it just a test."(pp. 76–77)
"It's hard to imagine how a deep-seated ignorance of our fellow citizens and their priorities could lead us to fair and respectful decisions about the shape of our public life together."
—Robert Kunzman, p. 44