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5 More ways to benefit from college freshmen survey results

Last week I shared a great article by College Parenting Expert, Wendy David-Gaines, explaining how the results of a yearly survey of college freshmen can be used in parenting college-bound students. 

Here is the second part of her article with more tips and insights on ways to use these results in the college planning process. 

Tips five through nine deal with the sensitive topics of college socialization, on-campus drinking and substance abuse, emotional health, study abroad opportunities, and cultural diversity. I encourage all parents to become as informed as they possibly can by reading this article and staying current on the obstacles and issues that their students may face when they have left the nest and become immersed in college life. 

9 College prep insights from Freshmen Survey Part 2

Parents, counselors, colleges, and students can find help to better plan for college and beyond courtesy of nine key findings from a recent survey of freshmen. UCLA’s The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2014 showed some important variations from previous years. Part 1 (Read it here) explained the first four and here in Part 2 are the other five.

The fifth finding can affect how well students adapt to the campus they attend. Although the decision to choose a college is based on many factors, the college-bound increasingly include a school’s reputation for social activities. Perhaps this is to make up for their own lack of social involvement since students are socializing with their friends less as they spend more time using social media or studying. To prepare for in-person interactions with peers, professors, and employers, social skills and teamwork can be practiced. For example, simulate college and job interviews, increase family dinner table conversations, and support participation in clubs, sports, and other activities. The goal is to be prepared to get the most out of an expensive college experience academically and socially.

The sixth discovery is a reason to be extra vigilant. Freshmen reported the lowest rates of alcohol and tobacco use in over three decades. Before celebrating this good news, realize that when they set foot on campus, students have less experience dealing with alcohol and cigarette consumption and their effects. They can be more tempted to experiment and binge drink. The situation is no better for students who did drink in high school because they have lower expectations for academic and social engagement. The survey found they were less likely to think they would earn at least a B average in college and participate in campus clubs or groups. However, they were more likely to choose a college based on its reputation for social activities (see fifth finding) and think about joining a fraternity or sorority. Families can form a parent-student team to develop reasonable expectations about grades, drinking, and smoking. Follow-up on progress with regular communication.

The seventh result found students rated their emotional health at its lowers level ever which can negatively impact student success. Depressed students more frequently reported disengagement behaviors like coming late, falling asleep, or being bored in class. They were less likely to engage with their classmates in study groups or group projects, develop an attachment to their campus (see fifth finding), and be satisfied with their higher education experience. This is particularly concerning for parents of students with disabilities because this student group reported feeling depressed more frequently. Since students with depression were more open to seeking help, colleges have to step up their counseling services to meet the increased need. Families can research the mental health services offered on campus and how to receive them during college prep.

Creating a balance now between work and play is a great lifestyle stress reliever to maintain perspective and reduce college, career, networking, and general anxiety.

The eighth conclusion may foreshadow the level of civic responsibility for college students based on their interest in studying abroad. Students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to enter college thinking there is a very good chance they will study abroad. Those with less affluent backgrounds have to be more open to these opportunities because the former group rated their personal goals of keeping up to date with political affairs and influencing social values as more important. They also claimed a higher foreign language proficiency and an ability to view the world from another’s perspective.

The ninth finding showcased the discrepancy between students’ self-rated tolerance of their diverse peers and their actual experience working cooperatively with others. Students entered college confident of their ability to interact but the survey showed this is more likely to happen for students with such practical knowledge. Since many campuses often seek a diverse student body, it’s a chance to gain an understanding of different cultures, races, and ethnic backgrounds for preparation to enter the global economy.

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5 More ways to benefit from college freshmen survey results

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