The American Freshman: Fifty-Year Trends 1966–2015
Examining trends based upon 50 years worth of data on incoming college students provides a great deal of insight not only into how higher education has changed, but also how society and public opinion have evolved over the past five decades. The makeup of the entering freshman class at colleges and universities in 1966 was much more homogenous than the composition of the cohort of students who started college in the fall of 2015. Colleges and universities in 1966 enrolled greater proportions of students who identified as male, White, religiously-affiliated, and middle- or upper-income compared to the entering freshman class of 2015. The increasing diversity at colleges and universities reflects demographic shifts in society, though students from certain racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds remain underrepresented within higher education.