With the new academic school year underway, tending to first-year student needs and demands is essential as the year ahead takes shape. Keeping this in mind, ICEF Monitor turns today to the results from research in Noel-Levitz’s “2012 Report: The Attitudes and Needs of Freshmen at Mid-Year” and the “2012 National Freshman Attitudes Report.”
The results show that certain campus services were unable to meet student demand between the start and the middle of the 2011-2012 academic year based on the survey responses of 4,000 freshmen at US-based institutions. These gaps mainly exist in the areas of career planning, study skills and financial guidance.
To begin, many of today’s first-year students have an intensified focus on finding a productive career amid a more challenging global economy. While some campuses may be waiting to deliver career planning services until the second term or second year, a substantial portion of the incoming freshmen in this study were asking for these services sooner, as illustrated below.
The data showed that although well over half of all freshmen surveyed last autumn were interested in creating an educational plan that would prepare them for their careers, many had yet to receive that help by the midpoint of their first year. Most notably, a full 70% of the study’s freshmen respondents at four-year public institutions indicated their interest in creating an educational plan, yet only 45.8% of these students said they received this assistance prior to taking the mid-year assessment.
The next identified gap highlights a need for additional instruction in taking exams, which could perhaps be met during an extended orientation course or through workshops. Interestingly, the report shows that, in general, the freshman respondents in this study were receiving levels of academic support at or above their requests at the start of the year, with two-year institutions outperforming their four-year counterparts.
And third, with rising college tuition fees and increasing student debt, it should come as no surprise that more freshmen wanted assistance with finding a part-time job, yet not enough of them received this assistance. The study also found that many freshmen who were expecting to find work at the beginning of the year were not working by mid-year. This could signal an increasing demand for paid internships during the course of study, either in-country or overseas.
Their research also shows that a higher percentage of students at four-year public institutions (as opposed to four-year private institutions) planned to transfer to another college or university to complete their degree or programme.
These reports help to identify changes in students’ academic and social needs and concerns, providing a springboard for mid-year action planning and follow-up in order to bolster student services. Additionally, the findings might inspire recruitment agencies to extend their service offerings to include assistance in areas beyond their core activities.