February 17, 2003

Survey of U-M freshmen may reflect changes in outlook after 9-11

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—A greater percentage of this year's freshmen at the University of Michigan feel that raising a family is either a "very important" or an "essential" goal, as compared with the freshman class of 2001, according to Malinda Matney, senior research associate in the Division of Student Affairs.

This finding is one of many derived from U-M's contribution to the annual survey of entering classes across the country conducted each fall by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. The Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) was founded in 1966.

"This administration of the CIRP is the first since the events of Sept. 11, 2001. This year's entering students completed the survey around the time of the first anniversary of 9-11, which may have shifted their views on many questions," Matney said.

"Whether as a result of 9-11 or the economy, Michigan students are demonstrating significant shifts in their future priorities. Those U-M students who feel that raising a family is a 'very important' or 'essential' goal rose from 72.8 percent in 2001 to 74.5 percent in 2002, while those valuing being 'very well off financially' dropped from 72.7 percent in 2001 to 69.3 percent in 2002."

Other findings:
· Michigan students demonstrated a sharply increased interest in participation in the arts. Although 12.9 percent of students surveyed in 2001 indicated performing arts aspirations, 17.1 percent of 2002 Michigan students reported this interest. Michigan students' interest in other creative expressions rose at the same time, including writing original works (13.1 percent in 2001, 16 percent in 2002), creating visual art (12.1 percent in 2001, 16.6 percent in 2002), and making a theoretical contribution to science (19 percent in 2001, 22.2 percent in 2002).

· Community minded goals rose as well: U-M students reported more desire to participate in environmental programs, promote racial understanding, be community leaders, integrate spirituality into life, help others in difficulty and participate in community action programs.

Politically, 2002 Michigan freshman were slightly different from their earlier counterparts. "Following a national trend, the percentage of Michigan students who consider following politics to be very important or essential rose slightly in 2002. In both years Michigan students were well ahead of their peers nationally in considering such political knowledge important," reported Matney.

Student behavior in selecting a college and preparing to pay for education shifted as well, Matney said.

· Michigan students' reliance on magazine rankings to choose a college grew substantially: 40 percent of students in 2002 indicated that this information was very important in the decision to enroll at U-M, compared with 32.5 percent in 2001.

· At Michigan in 2002, 43.7 percent of entering students expected to work, with 36.1 percent of men and 49.1 percent of women reporting this expectation. This gender discrepancy is particularly interesting considering that students enrolling at U-M are largely traditional students coming directly from high school, rather than students returning to college after a break in studies, according to Matney.

Nationally, the CIRP findings are based on the responses of 282,549 students at 437 of the nation's baccalaureate colleges and universities. The data has been statistically adjusted to reflect the responses of the 1.2 million first-time, full-time students entering four-year colleges and universities as freshmen in 2002. Information on the national survey is available on-line at

Contact: Joel Seguine
Phone: (734) 936-6396


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