Monday, January 15, 2007

Freshmen surveyed

                            Books are a load of crap.
                            Philip Larkin, "A Study of Reading Habits"

"The 2007 National Freshman Attitudes Report" is a survey of 97,626 first-year college students at 292 public and private two- and four-year colleges. Its overall conclusion:

The major finding of this annual national study is that today's entering undergraduates are arriving on campuses highly motivated to complete their college degrees. Yet at the same time, many admit they do not enjoy reading and bring less-than-ideal study habits to the classroom.
Here are some representative details, as given in a bar chart¹ in the report:

These numbers are, among other things, a study in irony: a "very strong desire" to continue one's education apparently need not manifest itself in "very careful notes" or "very hard" studying. I'm struck too by the number of students who aren't willing even to pretend that books have been important in their lives. They've probably had their fill of such pretending for now, having cranked out college-application essays about their passion for learning and the way in which reading [Insert Your Title Here] changed their lives.

The speaker in Philip Larkin's poem "A Study of Reading Habits" comes to his cynical conclusion about books in middle age. The average age of the respondents to the freshman survey is 20.

¹ This post marks the first -- and perhaps last -- appearance of a bar chart on this blog.
2007 National Freshman Attitudes Report .pdf download, from Noel-Levitz
[Noel-Levitz is a consulting group. From the website: "Noel-Levitz helps campuses and systems reach and exceed their goals for enrollment, marketing, and student success."]
A related post
American reading habits

comments: 2

Anonymous said...

Why this aversion to bar charts?

Michael Leddy said...

No aversion, really; it just never occurred to me that I'd be showing a bar chart on my blog. : )