Earlham's First Year Students

Information from 1999 CIRP Survey and from Earlier Years

Prepared July 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 1999, 183 of Earlham's first-year students completed the survey. As usual, Earlham students are characterized by high academic standards with 39% 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 261,217 new students at 462 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 60% of Earlham's first-year student sample. Eighty-two 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; 32% plan to seek an Ed.D. or Ph.D. (versus 14% nationally); an additional 9% of these entering students expect to earn a doctorate in a medical field.

In religious preference, 14% are Quaker (versus 0.2% nationally), 7% are Catholic, 9% Baptist, 7% Methodist, and 2% Jewish. There were 12% who responded that they are "other Christian" and 12% who said "other religion." The most common religious preference among entering Earlham students was "none," cited by 25% compared to 15% of the national sample.

The proportion of African-American students in the class is 9%. The proportion at the national level this year for all institutions is also 9%. Although 86% identified themselves as White/Caucasian, the minority categories, including African-Americans, totals 25%. This reflects students' indicating more than one racial category.

Parental income below $25,000 was reported by 13% of these new students at Earlham; income of $50,000 or more by 67%. Thirty percent of these students' parents are divorced or separated. Nationally, 25% surveyed come from divorced or separated families. Death has claimed at least one parent of 3% of the entering class at Earlham this year.

About 6% of the class lives within five miles of Earlham; 21% report living 6 to 100 miles away. Thirty-four percent live within 101 and 500 miles of the college, and 40% are more than 500 miles away from home. These figures confirm that Earlham continues to be a "national" institution. Nationwide, a mere 9% 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 (78%) of Earlham's entering students spent six or more hours per week socializing, while 32% spent sixteen or more hours per week. Thankfully, none of the students reported spending no time socializing. More than half of students (54%) spent more than six hours a week studying or doing homework. Fourteen percent of these students spent more than sixteen hours a week studying. These figures are quite higher than the national ones. Only 32% 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. Twenty-four 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. Sixty-eight percent of the students spent time in one or more student organizations.

Earlham students tend to come from well-educated families. Forty-seven percent of the fathers of entering students hold graduate degrees (compared to 18% nationally). Fourteen percent of the fathers have had a formal education of high school or less (the figure is 35% for the national group). A total of 8% are educators; 6% are college teachers. Sixteen 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, 36% hold graduate degrees (14% nationally) and 16% a formal education of high school or less (35% nationally). Mothers' careers are varied -- 7% are full-time homemakers, whereas 19% 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%). An additional 26% are employed in the helping professions listed previously.

Table 1

Political Views


Political Views
Earlham
All Institutions
Male
Female
Total
Far left
16%
15%
15%
3%
Liberal
47%
58%
54%
22%
Middle of the road
29%
24%
26%
56%
Conservative
6%
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, very 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
2
1
1
2
Architect or urban planner
3
0
1
2
Artist
2
5
4
2
Business executive (management)
11
0
5
8
Business owner or proprietor
3
0
1
3
Business sales representative or buyer
0
0
0
1
Clergy (minister, priest)
0
0
0
.2
Clinical psychologist
0
3
2
2
College teacher
3
0
1
.4
Computer programmer or analyst
3
0
1
6
Conservationist or forester
3
2
3
.4
Dentist (including orthodontist)
0
0
0
.6
Engineer
2
0
.6
7
Farmer or rancher
0
0
0
.5
Foreign service worker
2
10
6
.5
Homemaker (full-time)
0
0
0
.1
Lawyer (attorney) or judge
5
1
3
4
Musician (performer, composer)
5
0
2
1
Nurse
0
0
0
3
Physician
3
8
6
5
School counselor
0
1
.6
.5
Scientific researcher
5
3
4
2
Social, welfare, recreation worker
2
3
3
1
Teacher (elementary)
3
10
7
7
Teacher (secondary)
8
8
8
4
Therapist (physical, occupational, speech)
0
3
2
3
Veterinarian
0
1
.6
1
Writer or journalist
3
3
3
2
Skilled trades
0
0
0
1
Other career
6
9
8
10
Undecided
20
30
24
12

Earlham students are much more likely to want to be foreign service workers or conservationists than those in the national sample. They also are more interested in careers as writers/ journalists or college teachers. Business executive or business owner and engineer are popular career goals for the national sample but are not as common among the Earlham sample. Earlham students are 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), elementary school teacher 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, scientific researchers, or social/welfare workers 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
75
91
84
72
To gain general education
70
91
83
60
To become a more cultured person
47
74
63
35
To get a better job
59
46
51
73
To improve reading and study skills
39
50
46
39
To make more money
59
39
47
71
Parents wanted me to go
25
26
26
35
Wanted to get away from home
24
21
22
18
Role model/mentor encouraged me
13
10
11
13
Nothing better to do
13
5
8
3
Could not find a job
3
1
2
5

As we restructure the General Education program at Earlham, we need to take note that 83% of the incoming students came to college to gain a general education compared to 60% nationwide. Earlham students are also considerably more likely than their national counterparts to be in college to learn more about things and to become a more cultured person. They are 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
60
65
63
48
Wanted to go to a school the size of this college
51
73
65
31
Offered financial assistance
53
49
51
30
Graduates get good jobs
37
32
34
45
Good social reputation
30
34
32
23
Graduates go to top graduate schools
30
27
28
28
College offers special educational programs
31
40
36
20
Religious affiliation/orientation of college
19
17
18
6
Admitted through early action/decision
13
15
14
6
Not offered aid by first choice
5
8
7
5
Relatives wanted me to come
6
3
4
9
Teacher advised me
6
5
5
4
Rankings in national magazines
5
6
6
8
High School counselor advised me
4
10
8
7
Private college counselor advised me
4
6
5
2
College has low tuition
3
4
4
28
Not accepted anywhere else
5
0
2
4
Wanted to live near home
10
5
7
21

The two things which seem to have influenced most students to come to Earlham are the size of the college and its good academic reputation. The small size of Earlham was very important to 65% of the incoming students in choosing to come here. Only 31% of the national sample felt the size of the college was very important in choosing a college. Sixty-three percent of Earlham students noted Earlham's good academic reputation as a very important reason for choosing Earlham, whereas 48% 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 educational programs that the college offers 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
 
 

Table 5

Probable Major Field of Study (Percentage of Students)


Probable Major '76 '78 '80 '82 '84 '86 '88 '90 '92 '94 '96 '98 '99
English
5
4
4
4
4
4
5
9
6
5
9
7
4
Fine Arts
5
4
4
5
2
2
5
5
2
3
1
6
6
Language or Lit.
--
4
4
6
--
4
4
5
3
2
3
4
4
Philosophy
--
0
1
2
--
2
3
3
1
1
0
3
6
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
22
Biological sciences
23
15
17
8
6
13
7
7
15
14
7
10
10
Engineering
2
3
5
3
5
3
2
1
1
2
3
1
2
Health professions
2
9
1
7
8
5
2
7
4
7
7
5
7
Math/Comp. Sci.
1
0
2
1
3
1
0
1
1
1
3
4
1
Physical sciences
5
5
6
8
2
4
2
3
3
3
3
8
4
Other nat. sciences
1
1
1
3
2
0
1
1
1
0
1
0
0
Natural sciences total
34
33
42
30
26
27
14
21
25
27
24
28
24
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
7
Economics
--
1
2
2
--
0
1
1
0
0
0
0
3
Education
7
3
2
3
4
3
5
6
4
7
5
9
10
History
0
3
0
2
--
4
2
5
2
1
3
3
3
Political science
5
7
6
9
--
11
12
7
8
6
4
3
9
Psychology
--
8
5
10
--
6
9
5
8
9
8
9
5
Other social sciences
15
4
2
3
--
4
5
5
2
2
3
6
2
Social sciences total
29
32
23
37
--
34
41
38
30
37
33
39
42
Other fields
6
4
6
2
5
2
5
3
3
1
3
2
1
Undecided
16
18
12
11
15
17
22
14
17
18
17
11
16

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, Eduation, Business and the Health Professions.

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 '99
'99
Help others in difficulty
77
66
75
80
67
75
79
76
72
72 71
59
Develop a meaningful philosophy of life 87 78 73 71 68 71 74 71 61 69 66
40
Raise a family
66
41
54
51
55
59
58
55
57
67 60
71
Influence social values
54
40
38
49
46
67
60
56
50
48 52
36
Help to promote racial understanding
--
--
58
69
55
73
78
60
58
56 54
28
Become an authority in my field
57
55
65
65
63
57
64
59
46
56 54
59
Keep up to date with political affairs
68
52
47
--
--
73
65
49
48
44 46
26
Integrate spirituality into my life
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
-- 47
43
Obtain recognition from colleagues for contributions
33
27
37
--
--
39
47
42
35
41 40
50
Participate in a community action program
21
36
41
--
--
48
56
46
46
44 42
21
Be involved in programs to clean up the environment
--
35
46
46
38
63
57
44
40
37 33
18
Becoming a community leader
--
--
--
--
--
--
36
--
33
36 36
28
Influence political structure
34
23
19
--
--
41
45
30
23
30 28
17
Be very well off financially
23
20
30
29
28
28
30
34
35
40 41
73
Create artistic work
26
30
28
26
22
25
31
31
25
26 27
15
Write original works
29
26
25
--
--
29
34
31
37
32 24
14
Become successful in own business
20
19
32
25
23
20
26
19
19
29 24
38
Become accomplished in one of the performing arts
19
22
22
20
18
21
24
25
20
19 17
13
Make a theoretical contribution to science
10
15
14
--
--
14
21
17
17
18 14
16
Have administrative responsibility for others' work
12
9
17
--
--
16
21
16
11
27 19
35

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 keeping up-to-date with political affairs 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. The entering Earlham students this year continue the  trend towards more importance being placed on financial status that we began to see in the past few years.  41% of the Earlham sample consider being very well off financially an essential or important objective compared to the national sample's 73%. Raising a family was somewhat more important 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 44% of the entering Earlham students felt it was important to be involved in community action programs compared to 22% 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
81
91
87
73
91
82
Wealthy people should pay a larger share of taxes than they do now.
66
67
67
57
54
55
The death penalty should be abolished
48
62
56
22
27
25
Employers should be allowed to require drug testing of employees or job applicants. 
46
60
55
74
81
78
Colleges should prohibit racist/sexist speech on campus
44
59
53
58
67
63
Abolish affirmative action in college administration
38
27
32
55
42
48
There is too much concern in the courts for the rights of criminals
39
31
24
73
71
72
Realistically, an individual can do little to bring about changes in our society. 
32
21
26
36
28
32

Earlham students' views on the death penalty are quite different from those of the national sample. Fifty-three percent of Earlham's entering students in 1999 felt that colleges should prohibit racist/sexist speech on campus, comparable to 52% of the students entering Earlham in 1998. Comparing students views on this issue over the last four years, 53% 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 interesting that 26% of first-year students at Earlham agree strongly or somewhat that realistically, an individual can do little to bring about changes in our society. This is a slight increase from last year, when 22% of incoming Earlham students agreed with this statement. It is therefore not surprising that only 24% of this year's students are planning on participating in student protests or demonstrations (See Table 11). Nationally, 32% agree strongly or somewhat that an individual can do little to bring about changes in our society and only 4% 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
66
89
79
44
60
52
Abortion should be legal
77
76
76
54
52
53
Marijuana should be legalized
52
62
58
39
      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
77
39
55
53
30
41
Racial discrimination is no longer a major problem in America
14
9
11
27
20
23
It is important to have laws prohibiting homosexual relationships
17
4
9
40
22
30
The activities of married women are best confined to home and family
16
9
12
35
23
28

79% of Earlham students agree that same sex couples should have the right to legal marital status, but 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 considerably with the national group. In issues regarding homosexual relationships and sex with a short-term partner, there are striking gender differences among the Earlham students, similar to the national sample. The findings that more men (77%) support sex with a short-term partner then their female counterparts (39%) 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
75
85
81
75
Studied with other students
75
88
83
84
Performed volunteer work
79
91
86
75
Visited art gallery or museum
69
85
79
55
*Socialized with a different ethnic group
69
71
70
64
Attended a religious service
78
80
79
81
Came late to class
65
65
65
65
*Used the Internet for research or homework
53
49
50
63
Drank wine or liquor
53
59
56
54
Tutored another student
42
52
48
48
Participated in organized demonstrations
53
54
54
46
Played a musical instrument
42
47
45
39
Drank beer
54
51
52
51
Performed community service as part of a class
47
56
52
51
*Discussed politics
38
31
34
15
Was a guest in a teacher's home
39
41
40
27
*Discussed religion
40
43
42
27
*Was bored in class
43
40
41
40
*Felt overwhelmed by all they had to do
24
50
39
30
*Asked a teacher for advice after class
31
37
35
22
Overslept and missed class or appointment
42
35
38
36
*Voted in a student election
26
26
26
21
*Felt depressed
10
14
12
9
*Smoked cigarettes
19
19
19
14

*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 more than twice as 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 participated in organized demonstrations more frequently. Fifty-two percent of both men and women drank beer, whereas 53% of the men and 59% of the women consumed wine or liquor. The gender difference in the national sample is less significant with 53% of men and 54% of women consuming wine or liquor. A slightly larger percentage (81%) of students from the national sample attended a religious service compared to the Earlham sample (79%), but 42% of Earlham students frequently discussed religion compared to 27% of their national counterparts. There were fewer Earlham students (50%) who used the internet for research or homework compared to 63% nationally. Frequent smoking is equal among Earlham men and women (19% for both), and a slightly larger percentage than the national sample (14%).
 
 

Table 10

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


Area
Earlham
All Institutions %
Male % Female % Total %
Academic ability
70
74
73
58
Cooperativeness
76
72
74
70
Understanding of others
66
76
72
62
Creativity
78
71
73
54
Drive to achieve
62
59
60
66
Self understanding
66
68
67
54
Leadership ability
68
58
62
57
Self-confidence (intellectual)
77
59
67
56
Writing ability
62
65
64
43
Physical health
63
38
48
54
Emotional health
66
42
52
53
Self-confidence (social)
65
40
50
50
Spirituality
47
52
50
50
Artistic ability
31
48
41
27
Public speaking ability
57
43
48
33
Competitiveness
54
38
44
54
Popularity
48
25
33
38
Mathematical ability
49
32
39
39
Computer skills
39
19
27
31

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 slightly 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 understanding of others than the men, and the precentage was also higher 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
All Institutions %
Male %
Female %
Total %
Get a bachelor's degree
75
71
72
68
Make at least a "B" average
46
54
51
50
Be satisfied with college
50
59
56
45
Perform volunteer or community service work
21
53
41
19
Get a job to help pay for college expenses
24
39
33
39
Participate in student protests or demonstrations
18
27
24
4
Play varsity/intercollegiate athletics
39
23
29
15
Change career choice
19
36
30
12
Change major field
21
26
24
13
Graduate with honors
17
23
21
17
Seek personal counseling
5
10
8
6
Transfer to another college before graduating
2
6
4
12
Need extra time to complete their degree requirements
5
3
4
7
Drop out temporarily
0
3
2
.9
Work full time while attending college
2
0
1
7
Join a social fraternity or sorority
7
11
9
15
Drop out permanently
3
0
1
.8

The new Earlham first-year students think they are much 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 77% of these students. Interestingly, some students (2%) already think that there is a "very good chance" that they will drop out temporarily (the survey was given during New Student Week). Only 56% believe that the likelihood is very good that they will be satisfied with Earlham.

Looking at diversity issues, it was encouraging to find that 70% of the entering Earlham students had frequently socialized with a different ethnic group during the past year. It was troubling to find that only 54% of Earlham first-year students considered helping promote racial understanding an essential or very important objective. However, the figures shows that only 28% of the national sample considered promoting racial understanding an essential objective. 11 percent of Earlham students agreed that racial discrimination is no longer a major problem in America compared to 23% nationally. Earlham will need to continue to find ways to promote diversity and awareness on campus.

CONCLUSION

These data provide a baseline picture of the 1999 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
July, 2002