Earlham's First Year Students

Information from 2000 CIRP Survey and from Earlier Years

Prepared April 2002 by Mary Ann Weaver and Maura McDonald

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 2000, 193 of Earlham's first-year students completed the survey. As usual, Earlham students are characterized by high academic standards with 45% 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 269,413 new students at 434 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 59% of Earlham's first-year student sample. Eighty eight percent of Earlham first year students intend to pursue a Bachelor's degree. An M.A. degree is the eventual educational goal of 41% of Earlhamites; 35% plan to seek an Ed.D. or Ph.D. (versus 17% nationally); an additional 8% of these entering students expect to earn a doctorate in a medical field.

In religious preference, 16% are Quaker (versus 0.2% nationally), 8% are Catholic, 3% Baptist, 3% Methodist, and 5% Jewish. There were 8% who responded that they are "other Christian" and 15% who said "other religion." The most common religious preference among entering Earlham students was "none," cited by 32% compared to 5% of the national sample. 

The proportion of African-American students in the class is 7%. The proportion at the national level this year for all institutions is 10%. Although 85% identified themselves as White/Caucasian, the minority categories, including African-Americans, totals 23%. This reflects students' indicating more than one racial category.

Parental income below $25,000 was reported by 17% of these new students at Earlham; income of $50,000 or more by 64%. Thirty percent of these students' parents are divorced or separated. Nationally, 23% surveyed come from divorced or separated families. Death has claimed at least one parent of 2% of the entering class at Earlham this year.

About 2% of the class lives within five miles of Earlham; 19% report living 6 to 100 miles away. Thirty-four percent live within 101 and 500 miles of the college, and 44% are more than 500 miles away from home. These figures confirm that Earlham continues to be a "national" institution. Nationwide, a mere 13% of students attend an institution more than 500 miles from their home.

How did students spend their time in the senior year in high school? We see that the biggest block of time was spent socializing with friends. More than three-quarters (77%) of Earlham's entering students spent six or more hours per week socializing, while 32% spent sixteen or more hours per week. Thankfully, only very few (0.5%) of students reported spending no time socializing. More than half of students (61%) spent more than six hours a week studying or doing homework.Seventeen percent of these students spent more than sixteen hours a week studying. These figures are much higher than the national ones. Only 29% of students nationally reported spending more than six hours studying, and a mere 7% spent over sixteen hours a week on homework. Many of the Earlham students held a job during the last year. Eighteen percent of the soon-to-be Earlham students spent sixteen or more hours working for pay each week while 45% spent six or more hours doing the same. Students also spent time in extracurricular activities. Eighty-one percent of the students spent time in one or more student organizations.

Earlham students tend to come from well-educated families. Fifty-one percent of the fathers of entering students hold graduate degrees (compared to 23% nationally).Thirteen percent of the fathers have had a formal education of high school or less (the figure is 28% for the national group). A total of 14% are educators; 6% are college teachers.Seventeen percent have jobs in the helping professions (such as clergy, health care workers, social workers, nurses, doctors and lawyers). For the mothers of entering students, 44% hold graduate degrees (17% nationally) and 9% a formal education of high school or less (29% nationally). Mothers' careers are varied -- 10% are full-time homemakers, whereas 20% 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 (10%). An additional 23% are employed in the helping professions listed previously.

Table 1

Political Views

Political Views
Earlham
All Institutions
Male
Female
Total
Far left
13%
19%
17%
3%
Liberal
51%
59%
56%
25%
Middle of the road
28%
20%
23%
52%
Conservative
5%
3%
4%
19%
Far right
3%
0%
1%
1%

As usual, Earlham students tend to be much more liberal than their national counterparts. The number of students reporting "far left" or "liberal" political views is very high comparatively, while the percentage of "middle of the road" responses is approximately less than half the national figure. Not surprisingly, few new Earlham students report being conservative or "far right".

Table 2

Probable Career Occupation

Occupation
Earlham
All Institutions %
Male %
Female %
Total %
Accountant or actuary
0
0
0
2
Actor or entertainer
0
3
2
2
Architect or urban planner
1
0
.6
1
Artist
1
2
2
2
Business executive (management)
3
1
2
9
Business owner or proprietor
0
0
0
3
Business sales representative or buyer
0
1
.6
1
Clergy (minister, priest)
1
0
.6
.3
Clinical psychologist
0
4
2
2
College teacher
1
5
3
.5
Computer programmer or analyst
7
0
3
5
Conservationist or forester
0
4
2
.3
Dentist (including orthodontist)
0
0
0
.7
Engineer
3
0
1
7
Farmer or rancher
0
0
0
.3
Foreign service worker
0
5
3
.6
Homemaker (full-time)
0
0
0
.1
Lawyer (attorney) or judge
5
1
3
4
Musician (performer, composer)
7
0
3
2
Nurse
0
0
0
2
Physician
3
9
6
6
School counselor
0
0
0
.4
Scientific researcher
7
5
6
2
Social, welfare, recreation worker
1
7
5
1
Teacher (elementary)
3
1
2
6
Teacher (secondary)
3
5
4
5
Therapist (physical, occupational, speech)
0
2
1
3
Veterinarian
1
1
1
1
Writer or journalist
8
5
6
3
Skilled trades
0
2
1
.4
Other career
10
10
10
9
Undecided
30
30
30
13

Earlham students are more likely to want to be foreign service workers or college teachers than those in the national sample. They also are more interested in careers as writers or journalists. Business executive and engineer are popular career goals for the national sample but are not as common among the Earlham sample. Earlham students are more than twice as likely as their national counterparts to be undecided about a career. Gender differences in several career areas - business executive, computer programmer  (typically male), social or welfare worker and physician (typically female) - fit traditional norms. The relatively equal number of males and females opting for careers as journalists or writers, secondary school teachers, or scientific researchers reflect changing sex roles. Another indication of changing sex roles is seen in the fact that more females than males are choosing careers in medicine.

Table 3

Reasons Noted as Very Important in Deciding to Attend College

Reasons
Earlham
All Institutions %
Male %
Female %
Total %
To learn more about things
90
95
93
77
To gain general education
78
92
86
65
To become a more cultured person
60
74
67
41
To get a better job
47
48
47
72
To improve reading and study skills
45
37
40
41
To make more money
31
30
30
70
Parents wanted me to go
26
31
29
36
Wanted to get away from home
24
18
21
21
Role model/mentor encouraged me
15
16
16
13
Nothing better to do
9
4
6
4
Could not find a job
1
5
3
5

As we restructure the General Education program at Earlham, we need to take note that 86% of the incoming students came to college to gain a general education compared to 65% nationwide. Earlham students are also much more likely than their national counterparts to be in college to learn more about things and to become a more cultured person. They are much less interested in the benefit of making more money which was quite important to students in the national sample. 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 but has remained well under the national average.

Table 4

Reasons Noted as Being Very Important in Choosing Earlham

Reasons
Earlham
All Institutions %
Male %
Female %
Total %
College has a very good academic reputation
71
57
62
55
Wanted to go to a school the size of this college
64
73
70
35
Offered financial assistance
42
45
44
32
Graduates get good jobs
30
26
27
51
Good social reputation
38
43
41
28
I was offered a merit scholarship
31
35
33
21
Graduates go to top graduate schools
25
24
24
30
I was offered a need-based scholarship
31
32
32
11
College offers special educational programs
18
35
28
21
Religious affiliation/orientation of college
18
31
26
7
Admitted through early action/decision
12
11
11
7
Information from a Web site
4
7
6
7
Not offered aid by first choice
7
6
7
6
Relatives wanted me to come
9
6
7
8
Friends are attending
3
3
3
6
Teacher advised me
3
7
5
4
Rankings in national magazines
7
6
6
10
High School counselor advised me
7
10
9
6
Private college counselor advised me
3
6
4
2
College has low tuition
4
2
3
20
Not accepted anywhere else
7
4
5
3
Wanted to live near home
9
6
8
17

The two things which seem to have inspired most students to come to Earlham are its good academic reputation and the size of the college. The small size of Earlham was very important to 70% of the incoming students in choosing to come here. Only 35% of the national sample felt the size of the college was very important in choosing a college. Sixty-two percent of Earlham students noted Earlham's good academic reputation as a very important reason for choosing Earlham, whereas 55% of the national sample of students considered academic reputation an important reason for choosing their college. Financial assistance was also important to students . The early-action program, religious affiliation, and scholarships were more important for students in choosing Earlham than for students in the national sample. Low tuition, the desire to live close to home and the fact that graduates get good jobs were more important to students in the national sample than to students at Earlham. To compare these responses with previous year responses, see CIRP trends at http://www.earlham.edu/~ir/cirp_trends/earlham_reason.htm

Interestingly, more women were influenced by information on Earlham's web site (women 7%; men 4%) and that percentage was equivalent to the overall national norm (7%).

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
English
5
4
4
4
4
4
5
9
6
5
9
7
6
Fine Arts
5
4
4
5
2
2
5
5
2
3
1
6
5
Language or Lit.
--
4
4
6
--
4
4
5
3
2
3
4
3
Philosophy
--
0
1
2
--
2
3
3
1
1
0
3
3
Theology/Religion
--
1
2
1
--
0
1
0
2
0
1
1
2
Humanities Total
18
14
16
21
--
17
19
22
14
11
14
34
19
Biological sciences
23
15
17
8
6
13
7
7
15
14
7
10
18
Engineering
2
3
5
3
5
3
2
1
1
2
3
1
1
Health professions
2
9
1
7
8
5
2
7
4
7
7
5
2
Math/Comp. Sci.
1
0
2
1
3
1
0
1
1
1
3
4
6
Physical sciences
5
5
6
8
2
4
2
3
3
3
3
8
2
Other nat. sciences
1
1
1
3
2
0
1
1
1
0
1
0
2
Natural sciences total
34
33
42
30
26
27
14
21
25
27
24
28
31
Anthropology/Sociology
--
2
3
3
--
1
4
5
3
9
5
2
3
Business
2
4
3
5
5
5
3
4
3
3
5
7
2
Economics
--
1
2
2
--
0
1
1
0
0
0
0
1
Education
7
3
2
3
4
3
5
6
4
7
5
9
4
History
0
3
0
2
--
4
2
5
2
1
3
3
2
Political science
5
7
6
9
--
11
12
7
8
6
4
3
10
Psychology
--
8
5
10
--
6
9
5
8
9
8
9
6
Other social sciences
15
4
2
3
--
4
5
5
2
2
3
6
5
Social sciences total
29
32
23
37
--
34
41
38
30
37
33
39
33
Other fields
6
4
6
2
5
2
5
3
3
1
3
2
3
Undecided
16
18
12
11
15
17
22
14
17
18
17
11
15

In terms of probable majors of this group of entering students, the social sciences continue to make a strong showing here. Humanities remain a less frequent choice. Notable major preferences this year include Biology, Political Science, Math or Computer Science, and Psychology.

Table 6

Objectives Considered to be Essential or Very Important

 

Earlham %'s

Nat'l %'s

Objective
'69
'74
'78
'82
'86
'90
'92
'94
'96
'98 '00
'00
Help others in difficulty
77
66
75
80
67
75
79
76
72
72 78
62
Develop a meaningful philosophy of life
87 78 73 71 68 71 74 71 61 69 75
42
Raise a family
66
41
54
51
55
59
58
55
57
67 55
73
Influence social values
54
40
38
49
46
67
60
56
50
48 65
38
Help to promote racial understanding
--
--
58
69
55
73
78
60
58
56 61
31
Become an authority in my field
57
55
65
65
63
57
64
59
46
56 49
60
Keep up to date with political affairs
68
52
47
--
--
73
65
49
48
44 50
28
Integrate spirituality into my life
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
-- 61
45
Obtain recognition from colleagues for contributions
33
27
37
--
--
39
47
42
35
41 39
51
Participate in a community action program
21
36
41
--
--
48
56
46
46
44 46
23
Be involved in programs to clean up the environment
--
35
46
46
38
63
57
44
40
37 41
18
Becoming a community leader
--
--
--
--
--
--
36
--
33
36 33
31
Influence political structure
34
23
19
--
--
41
45
30
23
30 43
18
Be very well off financially
23
20
30
29
28
28
30
34
35
40 28
73
Create artistic work
26
30
28
26
22
25
31
31
25
26 29
15
Write original works
29
26
25
--
--
29
34
31
37
32 37
15
Become successful in own business
20
19
32
25
23
20
26
19
19
29 20
39
Become accomplished in one of the performing arts
19
22
22
20
18
21
24
25
20
19 22
15
Make a theoretical contribution to science
10
15
14
--
--
14
21
17
17
18 17
16
Have administrative responsibility for others' work
12
9
17
--
--
16
21
16
11
27 13
37

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, but somewhat less so. 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 sample. 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. Although we were beginning to see a trend towards more importance being placed on financial status, the entering Earlham students this year returned to a very low number percentage (28%) comparable to the lows of the early nineties. Being very well off financially is almost three times more important to the national sample of students than to the Earlham sample this year. Raising a family was somewhat more essential to students on the national level. In an example of what Earlham students consider to be more essential than their national counterparts, averaging the percentage of students in the last two years indicates that 54% of the entering Earlham students felt it was important to integrate spirituality into their lives compared to 44% from the national sample for the last two years. 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
Male %
Female %
Total %
Male %
Female %
Total %
The Federal government should do more to control the sale of handguns
83
91
88
73
90
82
Wealthy people should pay a larger share of taxes than they do now.
72
75
74
53
52
52
The death penalty should be abolished
61
72
68
27
34
31
Employers should be allowed to require drug testing of employees or job applicants.
54
55
54
73
79
77
Colleges should prohibit racist/sexist speech on campus
55
62
59
56
66
62
Abolish affirmative action in college administration
32
24
27
56
45
50
There is too much concern in the courts for the rights of criminals
26
30
28
68
66
67
Realistically, an individual can do little to bring about changes in our society.
16
16
16
32
24
27

Earlham students' views on the death penalty are quite different from those of the national sample. Fifty-nine percent of Earlham's entering students in 2000 felt that colleges should prohibit racist/sexist speech on campus compared to 53% of the students entering Earlham in 1999. Comparing students views on this issue over the last four years, 56% of Earlham students felt racist/sexist speech should be prohibited on campus compared with the average national percentage of 63%. 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.

It is somewhat surprising that 16% of first-year students at Earlham agree strongly or somewhat that realistically, an individual can do little to bring about changes in our society considering that 30% of these students indicated that chances are very good that they will participate in student protests or demonstrations (See Table 11). Nationally, 27% agree strongly or somewhat that an individual can do little to bring about changes in our society and only 5% of these students indicated that chances are very good that they will participate in student protests or demonstrations.

Table 8

Views on Social Issues: Lifestyles

Agree strongly or somewhat that...
Earlham
National
Male %
Female %
Total %
Male %
Female %
Total %
Same sex couples should have the right to legal marital status
86
91
89
47
63
56
Abortion should be legal
78
81
80
55
54
54
Marijuana should be legalized
61
66
64
40
      29
34
If two people really like each other, it's all right for them to have sex even if they've known each other only a short time
62
51
55
55
31
42
Racial discrimination is no longer a major problem in America
7
6
6
24
17
21
It is important to have laws prohibiting homosexual relationships
5
6
6
36
20
27
The activities of married women are best confined to home and family
9
6
8
29
17
22

Although 89% of Earlham students agree that same sex couples should have the right to legal marital status, just 56% 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 and sex with a short-term partner, there are little gender differences among the Earlham students, unlike the national sample. The latter findings 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
All Institutions %
Male %
Female %
Total %
Attended recital or concert
83
95
90
80
Studied with other students
87
89
88
87
Performed volunteer work
86
90
88
81
Visited art gallery or museum
87
90
89
59
*Socialized with a different ethnic group
68
68
68
68
Attended a religious service
82
85
84
83
Came late to class
61
63
62
65
*Used the Internet for research or homework
62
61
62
67
Drank wine or liquor
51
61
57
54
Tutored another student
36
61
51
54
Participated in organized demonstrations
42
59
52
45
Played a musical instrument
56
58
58
42
Drank beer
49
43
46
48
Performed community service as part of a class
51
53
52
56
*Discussed politics
44
43
44
16
Was a guest in a teacher's home
48
50
49
28
*Discussed religion
35
56
48
30
*Was bored in class
46
35
39
40
*Felt overwhelmed by all they had to do
35
43
40
28
*Asked a teacher for advice after class
33
43
39
24
Overslept and missed class or appointment
38
31
34
35
*Voted in a student election
16
30
24
23
*Felt depressed
10
19
15
8
*Smoked cigarettes
13
12
13
10

*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 than their national counterparts. They were guests in teachers' homes or asked a teacher for advice, performed volunteer work, and played a musical instrument more frequently. Forty-six percent of both men and women drank beer, whereas 51% of the men and 61% of the women consumed wine or liquor. The gender difference in the national sample is much less significant with 53% of men and 54% of women consuming wine or liquor. A larger percentage (89%) of Earlham students attended a religious service compared to the national sample (83%) and 48% of Earlham students discussed religion compared to 30% of the national sample. There were fewer Earlham students (62%) who frequently used the internet for research or homework compared to 67% nationally. Frequent smoking is nearly equal among Earlham men and women.

 

Table 10

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

Area
Earlham
All Institutions %
Male % Female % Total %
Academic ability
80
83
81
67
Cooperativeness
72
75
74
73
Understanding of others
68
77
73
66
Creativity
71
72
71
57
Drive to achieve
58
69
65
71
Self understanding
64
76
71
57
Leadership ability
58
64
62
61
Self-confidence (intellectual)
68
66
67
60
Writing ability
62
73
68
46
Physical health
56
45
51
56
Emotional health
49
52
51
54
Self-confidence (social)
44
47
46
52
Spirituality
44
61
54
45
Artistic ability
45
43
44
29
Public speaking ability
54
50
52
37
Competitiveness
39
31
34
56
Popularity
42
29
34
41
Mathematical ability
47
32
38
44
Computer skills
41
22
30
34
Religiousness



Self-ratings of academic abilities continue to remain high among the Earlham students. They also rated themselves considerably higher than the national sample in their writing ability, artistic ability and creativity. They see themselves as fairly uncompetitive in comparison to the national sample, but similar to the national norm in cooperativeness. Earlham men saw themselves better in mathematics and computer skills. Earlham women reported themselves as less competitive than the men. The women also rated themselves as having a greater drive to achieve than the men and were more in line with 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
All Institutions %
Male %
Female %
Total %
Socialize with someone of another racial/ethnic group
85
91
89
66
Get a bachelor's degree
78
84
82
78
Make at least a "B" average
60
67
64
58
Participate in student clubs/organizations
50
71
62
44
Be satisfied with college
57
68
64
49
Perform volunteer or community service work
34
68
55
24
Get a job to help pay for college expenses
51
52
52
43
Participate in student protests or demonstrations
19
36
30
5
Play varsity/intercollegiate athletics
23
23
23
15
Change career choice
33
31
32
14
Change major field
22
26
24
15
Graduate with honors
14
27
22
21
Seek personal counseling
10
14
12
6
Transfer to another college before graduating
6
3
4
7
Need extra time to complete their degree requirements
4
6
5
7
Drop out temporarily
3
3
3
1
Work full time while attending college
1
3
2
5
Join a social fraternity or sorority
1
2
2
12
Drop out permanently
0
1
.5
.7

The new Earlham first-year students think they are more likely than the national sample to participate in students protests and volunteer work. Students in the national survey are less likely to change their major or career choice than Earlham students. As usual, gender differences are striking here.

Earlham was the first choice for 65% of these students. Interestingly, some students (3%) already think that there is a "very good chance" that they will drop out temporarily (the survey was given during New Student Week). Only 64% believe that the likelihood is very good that they will be satisfied with Earlham. 

Looking at diversity issues, it was encouraging to find that 89% of the entering Earlham students had frequently socialized with a different ethnic group during the past year. It was troubling to find that only 61% of Earlham first-year students considered helping promote racial understanding an essential or very important objective. However, only 31% of the national sample considered promoting racial understanding an essential objective. Six percent of Earlham students agreed that racial discrimination is no longer a major problem in America compared to 21% nationally. Earlham will need to continue to find ways to promote diversity on campus.

CONCLUSION

These data provide a baseline picture of the 2000 entering group of Earlham students. Once again, this group stands out as very distinctive from the national comparison sample. It will be very important to follow up this group of students to ascertain the ways in which this distinctiveness continues to graduation and beyond.

 

 

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Created by Mary Ann Weaver
weavema@earlham.edu
April, 2002