Normally, whenever a newspaper runs a story talking about the newest crop of entering freshmen, it’s that story about what they remember compared to us old fogeys. Or some story talking about how the incoming group is degenerate or illiterate.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I opened USA TODAY (and it was a surprise since I tend to despise everything USA TODAY stands for, considering I used to work for a subsidiary called FLORIDA TODAY) and found a story talking about how the young dudes and dudettes entering college were actually improving.
This year’s college freshmen are more studious than their counterparts of the past few years, says an annual survey released today on their high school academic habits.
More of them took notes in class, did homework and took more demanding coursework as high school seniors, and fewer said they drank alcohol, partied or showed up late for class.
Those and other trends point toward an entering college freshman class that has a better chance of succeeding academically, say researchers who conducted the survey.
While some of the year-to-year changes are slight, when you add that to worries about education costs and the difficult job market facing them when graduating, it shows that today’s college kids are facing a much different experience during university than those attending only a few short years ago.
The survey, conducted last fall, is based on responses of nearly 204,000 first-time, full-time college students at 270 colleges and universities nationwide. It found that fewer students received scholarships and that the number of those receiving scholarships of $10,000 or more also dropped.
In each of the past three years, increasing numbers of entering students have said getting “a better job” was their top reason for going to college. A desire “to learn more about things that interest me,” the second-most-cited reason, held the top spot for the first half of the past decade.
In addition, almost three-quarters of the respondents said they’d taken at least one Advanced Placement course in high school, almost 40 percent of them spend six hours or more on homework each week, and, overall, the drinking patterns of the entering freshman seem to have calmed down.
All in all, this presents a relatively benign view of the young dudes and dudettes. It’s good to know there are kids coming along after us who actually have good heads on their shoulders and might be able to clean up the mess we’re leaving them.