Earlham's First Year Students

This is a summary report of data from the 2002 CIRP survey and from earlier years. This report also includes comparison information from two groups of our peer schools provided by the Higher Education Data Sharing consortium (HEDS). (See Appendix for peer group institutions)

Prepared January, 2004, by Nelson Bingham, Mary Ann Weaver and Gretchen Lamendola

Click here for links to tables within this report

The Cooperative Institutional Research Program survey is given to entering students at Earlham and many other colleges and universities each fall. In the fall of 2002, 244 of 281 Earlham's first-year students completed the survey. As usual, Earlham students are characterized by high academic standards with 40.2% of the entering first-year students who completed the form reporting an average high school grade of A or A-. They were compared with freshmen in a national sample of 282,549 new students at 437 institutions concerning their personal history, family characteristics, educational goals, values, attitudes on social issues, behavioral patterns, perceptions of their parents, and a variety of other issues.

Women comprise 54.5% of Earlham's first-year student sample. An M.A. degree is the eventual educational goal of 40.9% of Earlhamites; 31.6% plan to seek an Ed.D. or Ph.D. (versus 17.4% nationally); an additional 5.2% of these entering students expect to earn a doctorate in a medical field. According to HEDS, 13% of students at our peer institutions plan to get a medical degree.

In religious preference, 20.3% are Quaker (versus 0.2% nationally), 8.3% are Catholic, 2.1% Baptist, 2.9% Methodist, and 3.3% Jewish. There were 5.4% who responded that they are "other Christian" and 12.9% who said "other religion." The most common religious preference among entering Earlham students was "none," cited by 33.6% compared to 17.2% of the national sample.

The proportion of African-American students in the class is 6.6%. The proportion at the national level this year for all institutions is 10.1% and for our peer institutions is 4.5%. Although 83.1% identified themselves as White/Caucasian, the minority categories, including African-Americans totals 21.1%. This reflects students' indicating more than one racial category.

Parental income below $25,000 was reported by 11.9% of these new students at Earlham; income of $50,000 or more by 69.9%. Twenty-four percent of these student's parents are divorced or separated compared to 24.1% nationally and 18.8% from our peer institutions. Death has claimed at least one parent of 3.8% of the entering class at Earlham this year.

About 2.9% of the class lives within five miles of Earlham; 14.1% report living 6 to 100 miles away. Thirty nine percent live within 101 and 500 miles of the college, and 45.2% are more than 500 miles away from home. These figures confirm that Earlham continues to be a "national" institution. Nationwide, a mere 12.4% of students attend an institution more than 500 miles from their home.

How did students spend their time in the last year? We see that the biggest block of time was spent socializing with friends. About three-quarters (72.6%) of Earlham's entering students spent six or more hours per week socializing, while 12% spent sixteen or more hours per week. Thankfully, only 0.4% of students reported spending no time socializing. More than half of students (54%) spent more than six hours a week studying or doing homework, and 12.5% of these students spent more than sixteen hours a week studying. These figures are much higher than the national percentages yet almost identical to our peer group. Only 33.4% of students nationally reported spending more than six hours studying, and a mere 2.7% spent over sixteen hours a week on homework. Many of the Earlham students held a job during the last year. 8.7% of the soon-to-be Earlham students spent sixteen or more hours working for pay each week while 35.7% spent six or more hours doing the same. Students also spent time in extracurricular activities. 59.2% of the Earlham students spent one or more hours in student organizations compared to 56.4% of the peer group students and 57% nationally.

Earlham students tend to come from well-educated families. Forty-nine percent of the fathers of entering students hold graduate degrees (compared to 23% nationally and 52.2% of peer group). Fifteen percent of the fathers have had a formal education of high school or less (the figure is 27.4% for the national group and 15% for the peer group). A total of 11.3% are educators; 3.9% are college teachers and 13.9% have jobs in the helping professions (such as clergy, health care workers, social workers, and lawyers). For the mothers of entering students, 40.5% hold graduate degrees (16.9% nationally and 39.9% of peer group) and 10.7% a formal education of high school or less (26.7% nationally and 10.7% of peer group). Mothers' careers are varied -- 10.2% are full-time homemakers, whereas 16.4% work in the field of education as college teachers/administrators, in elementary education, or in secondary schools. Elementary Education was the most common career for the mothers (11.1%). An additional 12.3% are employed in the helping professions listed previously.

Table 1

Political Views

Political Views

Earlham

Overlap Group

Peer Group

All Institutions

Male

Female

Total

Far left

20.6%

13.2%

16.5%

12.5%

7.8%

2.5%

Liberal

44.9%

71.3%

59.3%

58.4%

50%

25.3%

Middle of the road

29.9%

12.4%

20.3%

23.1%

31.2%

50.8%

Conservative

4.7%

3.1%

3.8%

5.5%

10.4%

20%

Far right

0%

0%

0%

.5%

.6%

1.3%

As usual, Earlham students tend to be much more liberal than their national counterparts. Earlham men tended to report being middle of the road more frequently than women, while Earlham women reported being Liberal significantly more than Earlham men. The number of students reporting "far left" or "liberal" political views is very high, while the percentage of "middle of the road" responses is less than half the national figure but more in line with our peer group and very similar to our overlap group. Not surprisingly, few new Earlham students report being conservative and none indicated they were "far right".


Table 2

Probable Career Occupation

Occupation

Earlham

Overlap Group

Peer Group

All Institutions %

Male %

Female %

Total %

Accountant or actuary

1

0

.4

.4%

.4%

2.2

Actor or entertainer

0

1.6

.9

2.4%

1.4%

1.7

Architect or urban planner

0

0

0

.8%

.6%

1

Artist

1

2.4

1.7

1.6%

1.5%

2.3

Business executive (management)

4.8

2.4

3.5

3.5%

4.6%

7.7

Business owner or proprietor

0

0

0

.8%

1.1%

2.8

Business sales representative or buyer

1

0

.4

.2%

.4%

1.1

Clergy (minister, priest)

1

0

.4

.2%

.1%

.3

Clinical psychologist

1.9

1.6

1.7

1.3%

1.6%

1.6

College teacher

2.9

0

1.3

3.3%

2.3%

.5

Computer programmer or analyst

7.7

0

3.5

1.5%

1.1%

3.5

Conservationist or forester

2.9

1

1.3

.8%

.6%

.3

Dentist (including orthodontist)

0

.8

.4

.4%

.5%

.8

Engineer

1.9

1

.9

1.8%

1.8%

7.1

Farmer or rancher

1

.8

.9

.2%

.2%

.2

Foreign service worker

3.8

5.6

4.8

3.1%

2.7%

. 6

Homemaker (full-time)

0

0

0

0

.1%

.1

Lawyer (attorney) or judge

2.9

4.8

3.9

4.2%

6.6%

4.3

Musician (performer, composer)

2.9

.8

1.7

6.4%

2.6%

1.5

Nurse

0

.8

.4

.2%

.4%

2.7

Physician

2.9

2.4

2.6

4.9%

9.4%

5.9

School counselor

0

.8

.4

.1%

.1%

.3

Scientific researcher

1

3.2

2.2

4.3%

4.7%

1.8

Social, welfare, recreation worker

0

5.6

3

1.1%

.9%

.9

Teacher (elementary)

1.9

7.1

4.8

1.4%

1.3%

5.7

Teacher (secondary)

1.9

7.1

4.8

4%

3.2%

4.6

Therapist (physical, occupational, speech)

0

1.6

.9

.7%

.9%

2.5

Veterinarian

1

2.4

1.7

.6%

1.2%

1.1

Writer or journalist

4.8

4

4.3

7.3%

6%

2.6

Skilled trades

0

0

0

.2%

.1%

.3

Other career

9.6

8.7

9.1

7.3%

5.5%

8.3

Undecided

32.7

33.3

33

29.9%

30.5%

14.7

Earlham students are more likely to want to be foreign service workers, or a social, welfare, or recreation worker than those in the national sample. Much like our peer group, Earlham students are more interested in careers as writers or journalists. Business executive, engineer, and physician are popular career goals for the national sample but are not as common among the Earlham sample. Earlham students as well as students from our peer group and overlap group, are about twice as likely as their national counterparts to be undecided about a career. Gender differences in several career areas - business executive, computer programmer, social welfare, teacher, and physician - fit traditional norms. The relatively equal number of males and females opting for careers in foreign service, scientific research, and law reflect changing sex roles.

Table 3

Reasons Noted as Very Important in Deciding to Attend College

Reasons

Earlham

Overlap Group %

Peer Group %

All Institutions %

Male %

Female %

Total %

To learn more about things that interest me

79.1

90.2

85.1

91.2

90.1

80

To gain general education

70.9

88.7

80.7

84.4

84.4

66

To become a more cultured person

41.8

64.9

54.4

64.9

63.5

42.1

To get a better job

43.6

47

45.5

48.3

54.7

71.6

To improve reading and study skills

40

49.2

45.0

40.3

46

41.1

To prepare myself for graduate or professional school

39.4

43.2

41.5

55.2

62.9

57.8

To make more money

34.5

28.8

31.4

35.9

44.4

70.5

Parents wanted me to go

21.8

23.5

22.7

24.7

24.7

35.4

Wanted to get away from home

20.9

24.2

22.7

23.6

20.4

22.3

Role model/mentor encouraged me

10

8.3

9.1

10.8

10.8

13.9

Could not find a job

4.5

1.5

2.9

2

2.1

5.4

As we restructure the General Education program at Earlham, we need to take note that 85.1% of the Earlham incoming students came to college to gain a general education compared to 80% nationwide. Earlham students are also more likely than their national counterparts to be in college to learn more about things that interest them and to become a more cultured person. They are much less interested in the benefit of making more money, and getting a better job. This trend has varied somewhat over the years as can be

seen by the CIRP trends chart at http://www.earlham.edu/~ir/cirp_trends/college_reason.htm and yet has remained well under the national average.

Table 4

Reasons Noted as Being Very Important in Choosing Their College

Reasons

Earlham

Overlap Group %

Peer Group %

All Institutions %

Male %

Female %

Total %

Wanted to go to a school the size of this college

52.7

62.1

57.9

53.7

56.8

33.7

College has a very good academic reputation

50

49.2

49.6

69.6

77.4

55.4

Offered financial assistance

30.9

48.5

40.5

49.1

41.6

34.1

College offers special educational programs

23.6

41.2

33.2

18.8

18.5

21.1

Good social reputation

24.8

21.2

22.8

35.8

29.8

28.7

Admitted through early action/decision

14.7

20.8

18.0

19.9

24.7

8.5

Religious affiliation/orientation of college

10.8

21.4

16.5

3.0

4.1

5.9

The athletic department recruited me

11.8

6.9

9.1

7.5

10.7

6.7

Information from a Web site

4.6

11

8.1

14.4

16.3

11.1

Relatives wanted me to come

6.4

6.8

6.6

4.7

5.7

9.0

Teacher advised me

7.2

3.8

5.4

6.3

5.6

4.4

Wanted to live near home

5.5

5.4

5.4

4.4

5.8

17.6

High School counselor advised me

5.5

4.6

5.0

7.1

7.5

6.5

Reputation for campus safety

.9

7.8

4.6

5.4

8.2

8.8

Rankings in national magazines

2.7

5.4

4.2

15.9

24.4

13.3

Private college counselor advised me

3.7

3.1

3.4

3.8

4

2.1

Not offered aid by first choice

.9

3.9

2.5

5.3

4.9

6.0

College has low tuition

2.7

.8

1.7

4.1

2.8

21.7

The two things which seem to have inspired most students to come to Earlham are the size of the college and its good academic reputation. About fifty percent of Earlham students noted Earlham's good academic reputation as a very important reason for choosing Earlham, whereas a slightly higher 55.4% of the national sample of students considered academic reputation an important reason for choosing their college. An even greater percentage of students from our peer group (74.4%) considered their school's academic reputation a very important reason for choosing their college. The small size of Earlham was very important to 57.9% of the incoming students in choosing to come here. Only 33.7% of the national sample felt the size of the college was very important in choosing a college. Financial assistance was also important to 40.5% of Earlham students. The early-action program, religious affiliation, and special educational were more important for students in choosing Earlham than for students in the national sample. A much greater percentage of students from our peer group, overlap group, and the national sample felt that rankings in national magazines was a very important reason for choosing their institution. Low tuition and the desire to live close to home were more important to students in the national sample than to students at Earlham. Students from our peer group and overlap group were more influenced by their school's web site and less influenced by special educational program offerings. Interestingly, more women were influenced by information on Earlham's web site (women 11%; men 4.6%) and that percentage was equivalent to the overall national norm (11.1%). Also women were more influenced by the special educational programs and the religious affiliation of Earlham than male respondents.

To compare these responses with previous year responses, see CIRP trends at http://www.earlham.edu/~ir/cirp_trends/earlham_reason.htm


Table 5

Probable Major Field of Study (Percentage of Students)

Probable Major

'76

'78

'80

'82

'84

'86

'88

'90

'92

'94

'96

'98

'00

'01

'02

English

5

4

4

4

4

4

5

9

6

5

9

7

6

6

7

Fine Arts

5

4

4

5

2

2

5

5

2

3

1

6

5

7

7

Language or Lit.

--

4

4

6

--

4

4

5

3

2

3

4

3

5

7

Philosophy

--

0

1

2

--

2

3

3

1

1

0

3

3

3

3

Theology/Religion

--

1

2

1

--

0

1

0

2

0

1

1

2

2

1

Other Humanities
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
2

Humanities Total

18

14

16

21

--

17

19

22

14

11

14

34

19

23

27

Biological sciences

23

15

17

8

6

13

7

7

15

14

7

10

18

13

10

Engineering

2

3

5

3

5

3

2

1

1

2

3

1

1

1

1

Health professions

2

9

1

7

8

5

2

7

4

7

7

5

2

5

4

Math/Comp. Sci.

1

0

2

1

3

1

0

1

1

1

3

4

6

4

3

Physical sciences

5

5

6

8

2

4

2

3

3

3

3

8

2

3

4

Other nat. sciences

1

1

1

3

2

0

1

1

1

0

1

0

2

0

0

Natural sciences total

34

33

42

30

26

27

14

21

25

27

24

28

31

26

22

Anthropology/Sociology

--

2

3

3

--

1

4

5

3

9

5

2

3

3

2

Business

2

4

3

5

5

5

3

4

3

3

5

7

2

4

4

Economics

--

1

2

2

--

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

1

1

0

Education

7

3

2

3

4

3

5

6

4

7

5

9

4

3

7

History

0

3

0

2

--

4

2

5

2

1

3

3

2

3

3

Political science

5

7

6

9

--

11

12

7

8

6

4

3

10

8

5

Psychology

--

8

5

10

--

6

9

5

8

9

8

9

6

6

7

Other social sciences

15

4

2

3

--

4

5

5

2

2

3

6

5

6

6

Social sciences total

29

32

23

37

--

34

41

38

30

37

33

39

33

34

34

Other fields

6

4

6

2

5

2

5

3

3

1

3

2

3

2

3

Undecided

16

18

12

11

15

17

22

14

17

18

17

11

15

14

15

In terms of probable majors of this group of entering students, the social sciences continue to make a strong showing here. Notable major preferences this year include Biology (10%), Psychology (7%), Education (7%), English (7%), and Language or Literature (7%).


Table 6

Objectives Considered to be Essential or Very Important

Earlham %’s

Overlap Group

Peer Group

Natl

Objective

'69

'74

'78

'82

'86

'90

'94

'98

'01

'02

'02

'02

'02

Help others in difficulty

77

66

75

80

67

75

76

72

71

66

64

67

63

Develop a meaningful philosophy of life

87

78

73

71

68

71

71

69

68

64

63

60

41

Raise a family

66

41

54

51

55

59

55

67

57

53

64

53

74

Influence social values

54

40

38

49

46

67

56

48

56

50

46

43

39

Help to promote racial understanding

--

--

58

69

55

73

60

56

55

49

50

44

31

Keep up to date with political affairs

68

52

47

--

--

73

49

44

52

47

53

51

33

Integrate spirituality into my life

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

45

46

40

42

42

Become an authority in my field

57

55

65

65

63

57

59

56

53

40

56

58

60

Be involved in programs to clean up the environment

--

35

46

46

38

63

44

37

41

38

33

29

17

Be very well off financially

23

20

30

29

28

28

34

40

33

36

34

46

73

Participate in a community action program

21

36

41

--

--

48

46

44

42

34

33

32

22

Write original works

29

26

25

--

--

29

31

32

27

33

32

27

15

Becoming a community leader

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

36

39

31

31

35

32

Obtain recognition from colleagues for contributions

33

27

37

--

--

39

42

41

42

30

44

47

53

Influence political structure

34

23

19

--

--

41

30

30

35

29

30

26

20

Create artistic work

26

30

28

26

22

25

31

26

31

29

26

22

16

Become accomplished in one of the performing arts

19

22

22

20

18

21

25

19

19

19

30

25

16

Become successful in own business

20

19

32

25

23

20

19

29

20

18

20

25

40

Have administrative responsibility for others' work

12

9

17

--

--

16

16

27

13

16

16

22

38

Make a theoretical contribution to science

10

15

14

--

--

14

17

18

17

14

15

19

17


Helping others in difficulty is the most important life goal for the first year students at Earlham. This goal is also important to the students in the national sample and our peer group. Influencing social values and being involved in programs to clean up the environment are goals of Earlham students which are not nearly as important to students in the national and peer group samples. Helping to promote racial understanding has always been considered of greater importance to Earlham students compared to the national average, though recent years show there has been less importance place on this issue than in the early 1990's. Being very well off financially is much more important to the national sample of students and somewhat more important to the peer group sample than to the Earlham sample though we are beginning to see a trend towards more importance being placed on financial status. Raising a family was somewhat more essential to students on the national level and in the overlap sample, as did being successful at a business of their own and obtaining recognition from colleagues. Although integrating spirituality into their lives was slightly more important to students at Earlham than the national sample, peer group sample and overlap group sample. In general, the importance of each goal to the Earlham students was much different than the importance to the national sample, once again confirming the distinctiveness of the Earlham population. Trends for past years can be found at http://www.earlham.edu/~ir/cirp_trends/objectives.htm


Table 7

Views on Social Issues: Government and Institutions

Agree strongly or somewhat that...
Earlham
National
Overlap Group
Peer Group
Male %
Female %
Total %
Male %
Female %
Total %
Total %
Total %

The Federal government should do more to control the sale of handguns

91.5

91.7

91.6

69.1

84.8

77.8

86

84.6

The federal government should do more to discourage energy consumption

89

89.2

89.1

73.7

76.2

75.1

91.1

88.8

Wealthy people should pay a larger share of taxes than they do now.

75.7

74.6

75.1

50

50.2

50.1

75

63.3

The death penalty should be abolished

72.9

74.2

73.6

28.1

35.4

32.1

68.7

58.8

Colleges should prohibit racist/sexist speech on campus

50.9

64.1

58.2

54.3

64.6

60

51

47.7

Abolish affirmative action in college admissions

41.2

34.6

37.6

55.4

43.7

49

42.5

48.2

There is too much concern in the courts for the rights of criminals

38.3

27.3

32.2

65.8

62.5

64

31.7

38.3

Realistically, an individual can do little to bring about changes in our society.

25.9

20.9

22.9

31.6

24.1

27.5

20.4

20.2

Federal military spending should be increased

18.5

10.6

14.2

50.7

40.4

45

21.4

14.5

 

Earlham students' views on the death penalty are quite different from those of the national sample and the peer group. About fifty eight percent of Earlham's entering students in 2002 felt that colleges should prohibit racist/sexist speech on campus compared to 46% of the Earlham entering students in 2001. Earlham students in general have very liberal views on issues of government and institutions. Females in the Earlham sample tend to be even more liberal than their male counterparts, but both sexes are more liberal than their national peers. The Earlham sample is more in line with the peer group sample, yet it remains clear that the Earlham students have more liberal attitudes than even their peer group.

Table 8

Views on Social Issues: Lifestyles

Agree strongly or somewhat that...

Earlham

National

Overlap Group

Peer Group

Male %

Female %

Total %

Male %

Female %

Total %

Total %

Total %

Same sex couples should have the right to legal marital status

85

89.2

87.3

50.8

66.3

59.3

82.4

88.0

Abortion should be legal

81.5

83.2

85.0

54.2

53.2

53.6

84.7

77.8

Marijuana should be legalized

63.3

62.9

63.1

45.8

34.7

39.7

64.6

54.4

People should not obey laws which violate their personal values

65.1

47

55.2

40.1

31.5

35.3

46.3

39.5

Racial discrimination is no longer a major problem in America

12.7

7.6

9.9

26

18.4

21.8

11.6

13.8

It is important to have laws prohibiting homosexual relationships

13

6.8

9.6

32.6

18.5

24.8

7

9.7

The activities of married women are best confined to home and family

12.3

6.8

9.2

27.7

16.5

21.5

9

7.7

Although 87.3% of Earlham students agree that same sex couples should have the right to legal marital status, just 59.3% of the national sample agree with this idea. The majority of the new Earlham students also agree that abortion and marijuana should be legalized. These views contrast sharply with the national group. In issues regarding homosexual relationships there are very little gender differences among the Earlham students, unlike the national sample. This can result in more opportunity for misunderstandings and confusion about behavior among the Earlham male students. Previous year data on this topic can be seen on a CIRP trends chart at http://www.earlham.edu/~ir/cirp_trends/agree.htm


Table 9

Activities Engaged in by Students in the Past Year

Activity

Earlham

Overlap Group %

Peer Group %

All Institutions %

Male %

Female %

Total %

Attended recital or concert

81.8

90.9

86.8

89.6

89

79.9

Performed volunteer work

76.9

94.7

86.7

33.8

35.7

82.6

Studied with other students

75.5

90.2

83.5

87.2

89.7

87.1

Visited art gallery or museum

73.6

90.9

83.1

87.3

82.5

58.1

*Socialized with a different ethnic group

70.9

76.5

74.0

73.9

70.9

69.9

Attended a religious service

66.4

77.3

72.3

68.4

73.1

81.9

*Used the Internet for research or homework

68.2

72.7

70.7

76

80.5

78.4

Came late to class

64.5

60

62.1

59.3

65.5

63.2

Played a musical instrument

58.7

59.8

59.3

61.6

57.4

42.8

Drank wine or liquor

60.9

52.3

56.2

61.4

59.1

52.5

Performed community service as part of a class

47.3

56.8

52.5

46

51.7

52.7

Drank beer

62.7

40.2

50.4

50.5

50.7

46.5

Participated in organized demonstrations

40

47.3

44.0

37.7

35

46.7

Tutored another student

31.8

53.8

43.8

59.1

63

55.3

*Discussed politics

39.4

42.4

41.1

43.7

36.4

19.4

Was a guest in a teacher's home

34.9

43.2

39.4

39.7

38.3

27.3

*Discussed religion

39.1

39.4

39.3

41.7

37.5

30.5

Overslept and missed class or appointment

45.5

28.8

36.4

37.8

33.4

33.9

*Was bored in class

34.5

31.3

32.8

38.3

37.2

40.3

*Felt overwhelmed by all they had to do

15.5

42.4

30.2

32.2

30.4

26.8

*Asked a teacher for advice after class

25.5

34.1

30.2

31.8

33.8

24.4

*Voted in a student election

14.5

22

18.6

21

24.7

22.3

*Felt depressed

9.1

9.8

9.5

12.3

9.7

7.5

*Smoked cigarettes

11.8

6.1

8.7

8

4.9

7.4

*Percentage reporting frequently only. Other percentages are responses of "frequently" or "occasionally".

The most common activities among Earlham students during the past year were attending a recital or concert, studying with other students, performing volunteer work, and visiting an art gallery or museum. Earlham students were much more likely to have discussed politics, visit an art gallery, be a guest in a teacher's home, and played a musical instrument than their national counterparts. Fifty percent of Earlham students drank beer, whereas 56.2% consumed wine or liquor. A smaller percentage (72.3%) of Earlham students attended a religious service compared to the national sample (81.9%); however 39.3% of Earlham students discussed religion compared to 30.5% of the national sample. There were fewer Earlham students (70.7%) who frequently used the internet for research or homework compared to 78.4% nationally and 80.5% of the peer group sample. Frequent smoking is more common among Earlham men than women. Other significant gender differences included; men were more likely to oversleep and miss class or an appointment, women were more likely to vote in a student election, and women were much more likely to feel overwhelmed by all they had to do.

Table 10

Areas in Which Student Rated Self Above Average or Top 10%

Area

Earlham

Overlap Group %

Peer Group %

All Institutions %

Male %

Female %

Total %

Cooperativeness

75.5

74.8

75.1

66.3

71.8

72.2

Academic ability

76.4

72.7

74.4

85.6

88.6

69.5

Creativity

73.4

75

74.3

70.6

66.2

57.5

Understanding of others

74.5

69.7

71.9

67.7

69.9

65.8

Self understanding

67.9

60.6

63.9

65.1

64

55.8

Self-confidence (intellectual)

69.1

55.3

61.6

64.7

67

60.1

Drive to achieve

52.7

65.9

59.9

69.5

76.7

70.5

Persistence

59.3

54.5

56.7

60.5

68.2

63

Writing ability

55

52.3

53.5

65.4

64.5

46.4

Physical health

60.9

40.9

50

45.6

55.6

56.4

Leadership ability

52.7

47

49.6

57.3

62

60.2

Spirituality

46.4

50.8

48.8

41

40.9

39.1

Emotional health

44.5

45.5

45

46.6

51.7

53.9

Self-confidence (social)

46.4

39.4

42.6

41

44.7

50.3

Artistic ability

40

44.7

42.6

45.9

39.4

29.7

Public speaking ability

49.1

36.6

42.3

43.6

44.1

36.7

Risk taking

49.5

34.8

41.5

37.8

40.2

43

Mathematical ability

37.3

24.2

30.2

46.5

51.8

45.2

Popularity

37.6

21.5

28.9

27.9

34

38.8

Computer skills

47.3

12.1

28.1

29.2

30.1

37.6

Religiousness

21.8

24.8

23.5

20.8

25.1

31.1

Self-ratings of academic abilities continue to remain high among the Earlham students, though not as high as the peer group or overlap sample. They also rated themselves considerably higher than the national sample in their writing ability, artistic ability and creativity. Earlham men saw themselves better in mathematics and computer skills. Earlham women reported themselves as in not as good physical health, nor as intellectually self-confident as the Earlham men. The women also rated themselves as having a greater drive to achieve than the men, although both men and women rated themselves much lower than the national norm. Data on academic and mathematical self ratings from previous years may be seen on a CIRP trends charts at http://www.earlham.edu/~ir/cirp_trends/academicability.htm

Table 11

Students Estimate chances are Very Good That They Will...

Activity

Earlham

Peer Group %

Overlap Group %

All Institutions %

Male %

Female %

Total %

Socialize with someone of another racial/ethnic group

78.2

90.8

85.1

82.5

85.8

66.6

Get a bachelor's degree

73.1

80.6

77.2

87.4

85.9

79.5

Be satisfied with this college

57.9

67.9

63.4

66.3

62.8

51.8

Study abroad

47.7

70.2

60

54.5

48

20.8

Make at least a "B" average

59.1

57.7

58.3

65.7

65.8

60.2

Participate in student clubs/organizations

41.3

59.5

51.3

62.2

57.9

41.9

Get a job to help pay for college expenses

36.1

48.5

42.9

48.8

53.6

47.1

Perform volunteer or community service work

26.4

55

41.9

44.6

44.3

25.2

Change career choice

30.3

27.3

28.6

30.7

32.1

13.6

Play varsity/intercollegiate athletics

28.7

23.8

26.1

26.3

19.1

15.1

Participate in student protests or demonstrations

20.2

30.5

25.8

16.1

24.4

5.6

Change major field

23.9

22.7

23.2

25.7

25.6

14.8

Seek personal counseling

11.1

12.2

11.7

9.3

10.9

7.1

Transfer to another college before graduating

1.8

3.8

2.9

2.8

3.6

7.3

Drop out of college

3.7

.8

2.1

.6

.3

.8

Work full time while attending college

.9

2.3

1.7

1.9

2.3

6.2

Join a social fraternity or sorority

0

0

0

2.5

.7

11.1

The new Earlham first-year students think they are more likely than the national sample to participate in volunteer work, study abroad, participate in student protests or demonstrations, and change major and career choice. Students in the national survey are more likely to work full time and transfer to another college, than Earlham students, the peer group, and the overlap sample.

Earlham was the first choice for 73% of these students. Interestingly, some students (2.1%) already think that there is a "very good chance" that they will drop out permanently (the survey was given during New Student Week). Only 63.4% believe that the likelihood is very good that they will be satisfied with Earlham.

Looking at diversity issues, it was encouraging to find that 85.1% of the entering Earlham students had frequently socialized with a different ethnic group during the past year. It was troubling to find that only 49% of Earlham first-year students considered helping promote racial understanding an essential or very important objective. However, only 31% of the national sample, 50% of the overlap sample, and 44% of the peer group sample considered promoting racial understanding an essential objective. Almost ten percent of Earlham students agreed that racial discrimination is no longer a major problem in America compared to 21.8% nationally, and 13.8% of the peer group sample. Earlham will need to continue to find ways to promote diversity on campus.

CONCLUSION

These data provide a baseline picture of the 2002 entering group of Earlham students. And once again, this group stands out as very distinctive from the national comparison sample. For example, career commitments of these students to foreign service, social work and education are stronger than one finds in the national sample, a difference which fits with Earlham’s values. Likewise, these Earlham students are much less interested than their national peers in making money and getting a better job. On the other hand, it is less comforting to find that, compared to students at the selective liberal arts colleges that are our institutional peers (see Appendix), Earlham first-year students accorded less importance to preparation for graduate school or to becoming a more cultured person in their selection of Earlham. Given Earlham’s excellent track record in sending its students to graduate programs, as well as its strong commitment to general education, these findings are surprising and no obvious interpretation comes to mind.


Examination of these students’ reasons for choosing Earlham is revealing. The strongest reason is the size of the college (comparable to our peer schools). Other significant reasons noted included the special educational programs we offer (probably including study abroad programs and interdisciplinary programs) and the religious affiliation of the college (probably including such on-campus reflections of our Quaker identity as strong community, consensus governance, egalitarian relationships of faculty and students and social values of equality, simplicity and non-violence). We stand out from our peer institutions in both these respects. On the other hand, the second most influential factor, academic reputation, was cited as very important by half of our students. There is little comfort in this, however, when 77% of the students enrolling at our peer institutions report that the academic reputation of that college was very important in their decision to go there. Clearly, this has implications for Earlham’s efforts to enhance its national visibility – it is not only the extent of our reputation, but our image itself that requires attention. Finally, it is, perhaps, a good thing (and a reflection of the students we attract) that our entering students accord so little weight to rankings in national magazines (less than 5% saying that this is very important to them as opposed to almost 25% of enrollees at our peer schools giving significance to such rankings).

The broad distribution of probable majors for these entering students is, of course, consistent with Earlham’s liberal arts character. English, Languages & Literature, Education, and Psychology are the top choices. On the other hand, it is also noteworthy that only 21% of this class indicated an interest in majoring in one of the natural sciences, which is down from a peak of 42% in 1980! While there is year-to-year fluctuation in these figures, there does appear to be an overall trend downward. An examination of the national picture reveals what appears to be an opposite trend. In 1980, 28% of entering students indicated plans to major in the natural sciences; by 1990 that figure had risen to 33% of the entering class; and by 2002, fully 38% of new first-year students said they intended to major in the natural sciences.


Why should Earlham be different? Various hypotheses suggest themselves. Is there something about our recruitment process? Are our facilities seen as less attractive than those elsewhere? Has Earlham unintentionally failed to encourage natural science majors? One puzzling thing is the fact that Earlham has been highly successful in moving the science majors it does attract along to doctoral programs. Clearly, this situation warrants closer, more indepth study.


It has been typical for Earlham students to stand out from their national peers in terms of the life objectives they endorse. This year is no exception. More Earlham students consider it essential or very important to “develop a meaningful philosophy of life,” “influence social values,” “promote racial understanding,” “keep up to date with political affairs,” and “be involved in programs to clean up the environment.” Alternatively, these Earlham first-year students accord less importance than their national peers to such objectives as “raising a family,” “becoming an authority in my field,” “being financially well-off,” “obtaining recognition from colleagues for contributions,” “becoming successful in my own business,” and “having administrative responsibility for others’ work.” Most of these differences are not so sharp (or disappear entirely) in relation to our overlap group and/or our peer group of selective liberal arts colleges.


Earlham’s entering students have traditionally differed dramatically from their national peers in their views on social issues, specifically tending to be more liberal. This year is no exception. Compared to our peer group of selective national liberal arts colleges, Earlham students are much more likely to believe that the wealthy should pay a larger share of the taxes and that the death penalty should be abolished. In comparison to the overall national sample, Earlham students more strongly believe that same sex couples should have the right to marry and that abortion should be legal, as well as believing less strongly that affirmative action should be abolished for college admissions and that the courts give too much concern to the rights of criminals. More of our students (than either our peers or the national sample overall) disagree with the claim that racial discrimination is no longer a problem in America. Our students resemble their peers at similar colleges in opposing laws that would prohibit homosexual relationships and in their disagreement with the idea that the activities of married women are best confined to the home and family.

In the activities they report doing over the past year, our first-year students, interestingly, resemble the larger national sample in their performance of volunteer work (which occurs at a far lower level among students enrolling at our overlap and peer schools). Compared with the national group, Earlham students are more likely to have visited an art museum or gallery, to have played a musical instrument, and to have discussed politics


What are we to make of these findings? For the most part, they present a picture much like that of previous years. Earlham can recognize itself as an institution reflected in the students who enroll here. Yet, there are some potentially disturbing aspects to this picture. The relatively lower interest among these students in preparing for graduate school, the trend away from majoring in the natural sciences, the disinterest in becoming an authority in one’s field, and the somewhat lower emphasis given by our enrolling students to academic excellence – all of these form a pattern that deserves further investigation. It suggests that we are somehow presenting ourselves as something other than the academically challenging institution that we know ourselves to be.


APPENDIX


Peer Group
 
 
Amherst College
Bates College
Beloit College
Bowdoin College
Carleton College
Centre College
Colby College
College of Wooster
Colorado College
Denison University
Grinnell College
Guilford College
Haverford College
Kalamazoo College
Macalester College
Mount Holyoke College
Oberlin College
Pomona College
Reed College
Saint Olaf College
Swarthmore College
Vassar College
Wellesley College
 
Overlap Group
 
 
Beloit College
Grinnell College
Guilford College
Macalester College
Oberlin College