Party Like It's 1999: Era of the Dot-com Bubble

Posted by Joseph Ramirez on October 7th, 2015 in News, News Homepage, Research | Comments Off

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons: Micahmedia at en.wikipedia

At the end of the decade (century and millennium!), the engines of economic growth were operating at break-neck speed, fueled in large part by the dot-com bubble. In 1999, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above the 10,000 mark, and later 11,000, for the first time in history. The NASDAQ Composite—an indicator for the technology sector—produced a mind-boggling annual return of 85.59% before its subsequent crash the following year. In addition to a humming stock market, unemployment rates were on the decline, reaching their lowest levels in 30 years. Similarly, the federal government reported a budget surplus of $125 billion, its second consecutive surplus after 30 years of deficits.

The TIME person of the year, Jeff Bezos, founder of, represented the spirit of the day—an internet innovator who left his well-paying job in New York, drove across the country, ultimately settling on the west coast (Seattle) where he started an internet business out his garage. The American public was optimistic about their opportunities for wealth and prospects for becoming millionaires. The top-rated television show Who Wants to be a Millionaire debuted in August of 1999, averaging nearly 30 million viewers, with Regis Philbin famously asking contestants, “Is that your final answer?”

Given the dramatic economic growth and emerging technology sector, students arrived at college looking to acquire career training and connect to job prospects. To understand how students were looking to the future, CIRP added an item to the 1999 TFS, which asked students how “training for a specific career” factored into their decision to attend college. In the fall of 1999, 71.6% of incoming students identified specific career training as a “very important” reason for going to college, second only to “to learn about things that interest me” (74.7%). The percentage of students who indicated that training for a specific career was very important was similar to the percentage of students who decided to attend college in order to “to be able to get a better job” (74.5%).

There were important differences between male and female students, with women more likely to report it being very important that they get training for a specific career (74.5%) compared to their male peers (68.2%). What careers were they aspiring to? In 1999, a large percentage of students were planning to enter business (12.0% of women and 18.5% of men).

With computer science gaining attention, interest in the discipline was on the rise. The percentage of male students who planned to major in computer science was at an all-time high, reaching 6.5% in 1999 and again in 2000, before retreating to under 2.0% by the end of the next decade. An even greater percentage of students entered college with plans to become computer programmers or analysts, 9.2% of men, compared to 3.2% of women, had plans to become a computer programmer or analyst.

With all of this attention being placed on the labor market and job opportunities, students were less likely to be thinking about graduate school. In fact, a smaller percentage of students reported that preparing for graduate or professional school was an important reason for attending college in 1999 compared to 1994, when the question was last asked.

Despite such optimism about the economy and job prospects, fear of impending doom escalated as calendars turned to 2000. Y2K fears spread that computers, the driving force of economic growth, would become confused and/or operate incorrectly as the clock struck midnight. It was the dawn of a new age, a new millennium, which began with great optimism and wealth creation for some. It would only be a matter of time before such feelings were would be upended.



44.7% agreed that material on the internet should be regulated by the government

27.3% thought people have a right to know about the personal lives of public figures

33.9% of students thought marijuana should be legalized.

42.5% thought it was very important or essential to integrate spirituality into their lives

24.4% thought there was at least some chance they’d get married in college.

1998: You've Got Mail: Measuring Computer and Internet Access and Usage

Posted by Joseph Ramirez on September 29th, 2015 in News, News Homepage, Surveys | Comments Off

President Bill Clinton garnered much news coverage in 1998, as he became only the second United States President to be impeached by the House of Representatives. Other notable world events included the establishment of the International Criminal Court, the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Economics to Amartya Sen, the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and the Great Pager Blackout, which revealed challenges to the mass use of satellite communications.

Just as first-year college students were completing the 1998 CIRP Survey, Apple Computers introduced the iMac, a new all-in-one computer that served as an important precursor to the iPod and iPhone. Windows98 was released for general use after years in development, and two graduate students—Sergey Brin and Larry Page—were busy starting a technology company called Google.

Updates to the 1998 CIRP Freshman Survey reflected the rapid advancements in technology, particularly the World Wide Web, and the emergence of the “dotcom” era. With internet usage increasing and students gaining access at school and at home, the 1998 CIRP Freshman Survey added several items to measure computer and internet usage.

The CIRP asked students how frequently they had engaged in the following activities as high school seniors:

  • Communicated via e-mail
  • Used the Internet for research or homework
  • Participated in internet chat rooms
  • Played computer games
  • Other internet use

By 1998, a strong majority of incoming students reported that they “frequently” or “occasionally” played computer games (80.4%) and also that they used the internet for research or homework (82.9%). However, a smaller percentage (65.9%) indicated that they communicated via e-mail or participated in internet chat rooms (54.2%) while in high school. Thus, at the dawn of when CIRP first started asking students about their internet usage, a greater percentage of students were using it to do their homework or play games rather than to communicate via e-mail or chat rooms.

As the internet was emerging as a resource with significant content and as a platform to communicate with others, questions arose as to who should govern it and how it should be regulated. The CIRP not only introduced items to measure students’ computer and internet usage, the survey also included a question inquiring about students’ views on how the internet should be regulated. Specifically, the survey asked the extent to which students agree or disagree that “Material on the internet should be regulated by the government.”

In the fall of 1998, 43.2% of incoming college students agreed or strongly agreed that the government should regulate material on the internet. While this question was only asked in 1998 and 1999, debates about regulation and censorship continue to be waged as the internet continues to play an increasing role in our daily lives. However, in 1998, the CIRP Freshman Survey recognized the important role the internet occupied in students’ academic and social experiences and their expectations for college.


19.3% of students frequently played a musical instrument

46.9% had not at all visited an art gallery or museum in the past year

62.9% frequently or occasionally read the editorial page in the newspaper in the past year

21.3% graduated from a high school that required community service

46.6% of students completed at least one year of computer science coursework in high school

1997: Harry Potter is Born while A Prozac Nation Goes to College

Posted by Joseph Ramirez on September 22nd, 2015 in News, News Homepage, Surveys | Comments Off

Alnwick Castle. (Photo by James West: Made available through Creative Commons)

Midway through 1997, the first Harry Potter book, originally Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was released in London. The beginning of the Harry Potter era coincided with the ending of another—that of “Deep Blue”—which defeated Chess Champion Gary Kasparaov before being retired by IBM.

Sadly, 1997 will be remembered the year Princess Diana passed away, a funeral watched by hundreds of millions. Later in the year, people were heading in droves to the movies to watch a fictionalized account of another human tragedy—the sinking of the Titanic—ultimately making James Cameron’s movie one of the highest-grossing films of all time.

Around this time, the national conversation about mental well-being and antidepressants was gaining in strength, particularly in the wake of Prozac Nation and Listening to Prozac’s publication a few years earlier. The 1990s saw substantial increases in the use of antidepressants and other psychiatric medications such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil. When members of this generation entered college, updates to the 1997 CIRP Freshman Survey included questions about students’ past experience with such medications.

Results from the CIRP administration show that 5.2% of all first-time, full-time students entering four-year colleges reported taking a prescribed anti-depressant as seniors in high school. A slightly lower percentage of male students (4.6%) reported taking anti-depressants than their female counterparts (5.8%). Among students who indicated they were frequently depressed in high school, 16.3% reported taking a prescribed anti-depressant. Though this question regarding antidepressant use was only included on the survey between 1996 and 1999, it signaled an important change in college students’ health care and well-being, as well as a larger, national trend regarding medications and antidepressants. In addition, such data reinforced the need for institutions to consider the specific needs and supports required to ensure student success.

In addition to asking about prescribed anti-depressants, the 1997 CIRP Freshman Survey asked students for only the second time whether they expected to seek personal counseling while in college. In 1997, 5.4% of incoming students indicated there was a very good chance that they would seek personal counseling while in college. Similar to the responses about anti-depressants, males were less likely to anticipate seeking personal counseling, with 4.6% reporting a very good chance they would do so, compared to 6.1% of females. Fifteen years later, in the fall of 2012, the percentage of students expecting to seek personal counseling has more than doubled to 10.9% of all incoming first-time, full-time students, with slightly larger differences between male and female students.


66.6% of students thought there was a very good chance they would earn a bachelor’s degree.

33.1% of students reported taking an SAT/ACT prep course. Among students with reported family incomes above $75k, 39.2% of students reported taking a prep course compared to 28.4% of students from families making $25k or less.

40.3% of students thought there was a very good chance they would get a job to help pay for college expenses

54.4% frequently or occasionally found it difficult to study at home

4.2% of students reported having already taken courses for credit at the institution where they enrolled

1996: A New Era of Affirmative Action: Student Views and Perceptions

Posted by Joseph Ramirez on September 17th, 2015 in News, News Homepage, Surveys | Comments Off

1996 Paralympics Venue (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

In 1996, Bill Clinton was reelected for a second term, the Centennial Summer Olympics as well as the Paralympics were held in Atlanta, Rent moved to Broadway to start a 12-year run at the Nederlander Theatre, and a Clean Air Act amendment went into effect, finally banning any remaining leaded fuel for on-road vehicles. Sadly, TWA flight 800 crashed on July 17th off Long Island, only 10 days before another bombing in Atlanta rocked the Olympic celebrations.

In 1996, two important developments ushered in a new era in affirmative action policy and practices within higher education. First, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued their decision on the Hopwood v. Texas case, ruling against the University of Texas’ Law School and its use of race in its admission practices. Second, in the fall 1996 general election, voters in the state of California passed Proposition 209, prohibiting public colleges and universities from considering race, sex, national origin, or ethnicity in their employment and admission practices. Similar bans were enacted shortly afterwards in Texas, Washington, and Florida. Such changes dramatically altered the role and use of affirmative action in higher education.

At the same time affirmative action policies and practices were being debated within local, state, and national forums, changes to the CIRP Freshman Survey sought to understand incoming college students’ attitudes toward these issues. In the 1996 CIRP Freshman Survey, students were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statements:

• Affirmative action in college admissions should be abolished
• Undocumented immigrants should be denied access to public education
• All official federal and state documents should be printed in English only

Results from the survey show that students were nearly evenly split on the issue of affirmative action, with 48.9% of students indicating that they “Agree strongly” or “Agree somewhat” that affirmative action should be abolished. A greater percentage of men agreed with the statement (56.4%) than their female classmates (42.8%). Nearly twenty years later in 2013, a larger percentage of students (52.0%) felt that affirmative action should be abolished, while the gap between male and female students closed from 13.6 percentage points in 1996 to 8.4 percentage points in 2013 (56.5% v. 48.1%).

When asked about undocumented immigrants and whether they should be denied access to public education, 55.5% of students agreed. Though a majority of incoming college students thought public education should be denied to undocumented immigrants, a smaller percentage (44.3%) felt that all official documents should be printed in English only. Similarly, male and female students reported differing views on denying undocumented immigrants access to public education (64.3% v. 48.4%) as well as printing federal and state documents in English only (54.9% v. 35.9%).


  • 50.0% of incoming freshmen reported that their parents had 4 or more dependents for support.
  • Less than half (48.8%) of students who frequently performed volunteer work during their senior year of high school thought there was a “Very good chance” they would participate in volunteer or community service work while in college.
  • 77.4% reported losing their temper in the past year.
  • 18.0% had major concerns about their ability to finance their college education.
  • 8.7% indicated that rankings in the national magazines were a “very important” factor in their college choice, but this increased to 22.0% for those who attended private universities.

1995: Windows 95 Mania, Higher Learning Hits the Theaters, and the WHO Declares Poverty as the Number One Killer

Posted by Jen Berdan Lozano on September 9th, 2015 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

1995 Blog

The World Health Organization building in Geneva, Switzerland. (Photo credit: Yann Forget, made publicly available through Creative Commons)

Several achievements and milestones were made this year that should be noted. Steve Fossett successfully flew solo across the Pacific Ocean in a hot air balloon. DVDs were announced (and then introduced to the market in 1996). Prehistoric paintings and engravings from 17,000-20,000 years ago were found in caves in Southern France. Valeri Polyakov completed a record 438 consecutive days in space.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates released Windows 95, which laid the groundwork for the Windows operating system we see today. With the debut of the “Start” button and a multi-tasking toolbar and buttons that could minimize or maximize your window, Windows 95 was revolutionary. The release included an hour-long instructional video from Friends stars Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry, and an ad that played “Start Me Up” from the Rolling Stones. Shortly after this release Microsoft brought Internet Explorer to the masses. On the heels of these Microsoft releases CIRP asked students about their computer usage. Compared to just a couple years prior, computer usage jumped significantly. About half (49.6%) of incoming freshmen reported “frequently” using a personal computer. This jumped over ten percentage points from 1993 when only 37.8% had done so “frequently.”

Higher Learning, a film by John Singleton, was released to theaters. While it didn’t dominate box office sales like Toy Story, Batman Forever, or Apollo 13, it was a provocative film about the purpose of a college education, racial tensions, and sexual assault – critical issues and conversations that continue today. The CIRP Freshman Survey asked incoming college students about their opinions on related issues. About eight out of ten (81.6%) incoming freshmen stated that they believed racial discrimination was still a problem in America. Almost nine out of ten (88.6%) students believed that just because a man thinks that a woman has “led him on” does not entitle him to have sex with her. The majority of freshmen (85.6%) also believed that better education and more job opportunities would substantially reduce crime. And about six out of ten (63.6%) students believed that colleges should prohibit racist/sexist speech on campus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) released their first report, entitled, Bridging the gaps. In the report, extreme poverty is cited as “the world’s most ruthless killer and the greatest cause of suffering on earth.” The WHO highlights differences between first and third world countries in life expectancies, disease, and education. Calling for allocating resources more efficiently, alleviating poverty by increasing access to health care, to improving the workforce, and strengthening emergency relief and humanitarian efforts, the WHO strived to raise awareness and spark change. Six out of ten (60.7%) incoming college students stated that helping others in difficulty was a “very important” or “essential” goal. Women were much more likely than men to rate this as an important goal. With almost a twenty percentage point difference (18.8 percentage points), 69.3% of women compared to only 50.5% of men considered helping others in difficulty a “very important” or “essential” goal.

Did you know? 41.8% of incoming college students rated themselves as “above average” or “highest 10%” compared to their peers in stubbornness.

34.1% of incoming college students had overslept and missed a class or an appointment in the past year.

16.7% of incoming college students rated themselves as “above average” or “highest 10%” compared to their peers in cynicism.


1994: Notable for Mandela Taking Office, Forrest Gump Quotes, Nancy Kerrigan vs. Tonya Harding, and NAFTA

Posted by Jen Berdan Lozano on September 1st, 2015 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

This is the official photo of Mandela casting his vote in the 1994 elections. It was the first time Mandela had voted in his life. It was taken at Ohlange School, Inanda, Durban by the IEC's official photographer, Paul Weinberg and licensed under Creative Commons

This year screens lit up with The Lion King. Quotes from Forrest Gump were immortalized. Friends met up at Central Perk for the first time. Nancy Kerrigan was struck by the “whack heard around the world.” The Winter Olympics were greener than ever. People travelled under the sea between England and France. A trilateral trade agreement was established across North American countries. South Africa held its first fully multiracial presidential election.

Moviegoers were delighted with several blockbusters in theaters this year, including Disney’s The Lion King which was the highest-grossing movie of 1994 and the multi-Oscar winning epic, Forrest Gump. Hollywood hits weren’t the only thing people watched, popular TV shows such as Friends and ER debuted and 95 million viewers across the country were glued to their televisions watching OJ Simpson trying to outrun police in his white Bronco. Every year the Freshman Survey asks incoming college students how they spend their time. About three out of ten (31.0%) incoming students reported that they had spent six or more hours per week in the last year watching television. Men were much more likely to spend time watching television, 36.5% of men compared to 26.3% of women spent six or more hours a week in front of the tube.

The 1994 Winter Olympic Games were held in Lillehammer, Norway. One of the biggest scandals to ever hit figure skating occurred in the time leading up to the games. . When leaving the ice after a practice session, Nancy Kerrigan was attacked with a baton, injuring her right knee. It was revealed that the attack was organized by the ex-husband of Kerrigan’s rival, Tonya Harding. After a quick recovery, Kerrigan skated in the Games and came home with the silver medal, finishing second to gold-medalist Oksana Baiul, and Tonya Harding was banned from professional figure skating. The Winter Games in Norway were also the most environmentally-friendly Olympics. The president of the International Olympic Committee named the 1994 Winter Games the “White-Green Games” in honor of Norway’s recycling and energy-saving efforts. Concern for the environment was widespread, especially among the incoming class of college students. The majority of freshmen “agreed strongly” or “agreed somewhat” that the federal government is not doing enough to control environmental pollution (84.0%) and that the federal government should do more to discourage energy consumption (71.9%). Although most students believed that the government should be doing more to protect the environment, only a quarter (24.3%) of incoming students considered becoming involved in programs to clean up the environment as an “essential” or “very important” goal.

In politics and other news, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) opened up trade between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Winning its first fully multiracial election post-Apartheid, Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa. U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. The Chunnel officially opened transporting passengers quickly between England and France. The Church of England ordained its first female priests. According to the Freshman Survey, incoming students valued several related goals. When asked about the importance of certain goals, 35.8% cited helping to promote racial understanding, 31.9% stated keeping up to date with political affairs, only 18.7% believed influencing the political structure, and 40.2% stated influencing social values as “essential” or “very important.”

Did you know? 36.5% of incoming freshmen stated that becoming a more cultured person was a “very important” reason to go to college.

64.1% of incoming freshmen rated themselves as in the “highest 10%” or “above average” compared to their peers in their drive to achieve.

38.7% of incoming freshmen believed there was “very good chance” that they would get a job to help pay for college expenses.


1993: Clinton Takes Office, the Web Goes Public, and a Signed Treaty to Reduce Nuclear Warheads

Posted by Jen Berdan Lozano on August 25th, 2015 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

Bill Clinton, standing between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, taking the oath of office of President of the United States, January 20th, 1993 (This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID ppmsc.02865).

A new president kicked off 1993. Tragedy struck professional tennis. The World Wide Web went public. Abortion protests came under fire. And an agreement was made to reduce nuclear warheads.

Bill Clinton took office as the 42nd President of the United States, beating out the incumbent President George H.W. Bush. Clinton emerged as the popular vote despite Bush’s Cold War and Desert Storm successes and accusations of Clinton dodging the draft and smoking marijuana. According to the CIRP Freshman Survey, following this election year, most students discussed politics either “frequently” (18.8%) or “occasionally” (54.9%). And even though Clinton won the popular vote amidst marijuana use accusations (even though he “did not inhale”), the majority of incoming freshmen did not think that marijuana should be legalized (71.8%).

In sports news, pro tennis player Monica Seles was at the top of her game and coming off of major wins at the French Open, the US Open, and then defeating Steffi Graf at the Australian Open. At a tournament in Hamburg, Germany, just a few months after the Australian Open, Seles was brutally stabbed in the back on the court during a change-over between games by an obsessed fan of Steffi Graf. Seles did not return to professional tennis for two years following the incident. When incoming freshmen were asked about how often they exercised or played sports in the past year, about a third (32.4%) reported they did so 11 or more hours a week and 17.3% reported 6 to 10 hours a week. In addition, 36.5% of incoming college students expected that there was either a “very good chance” or “some chance” that they would play varsity/intercollegiate athletics.

The World Wide Web was placed in the public domain by CERN, with their release of the source code for Tim Berners Lee’s WorldWideWeb software. By the end of the year, there were over 500 known web servers providing internet access. Although only 2.3% of incoming freshmen reported computer programming as their probable career, most students reported using a personal computer within the past year either “frequently” (37.8%) or “occasionally” (43.5%).

In Florida, an abortion protest turned fatal when a doctor was tragically shot to death outside his abortion clinic. Abortion was, and continues to be, a hotly debated issue across the country and CIRP asked students about their opinions on the matter. Most students believed that abortion should be legalized (62.4%). Women however were more likely to believe that abortion should be legal with 39.1% of women compared to 31.8% of men “agreeing strongly” on the issue.

In an effort to continue peace efforts in the post-Cold War era, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II) was signed between the U.S. and Russia. As part of this treaty, both the U.S. and Russia agreed to reduce their nuclear warheads. Among the several political questions on the CIRP Freshmen survey, incoming college students were asked whether or not they believed nuclear disarmament was in fact attainable. With this treaty in place, most students agreed that nuclear disarmament was attainable, with 17.8% “agreeing strongly” and 46.4% “agreeing somewhat.”

Did you know? 78.5% of incoming freshmen “frequently” or “occasionally” studied in a library.

20.1% of incoming students “frequently” and 66.1% “occasionally” discussed ‘safe sex.’

23.2% of incoming college students “frequently” felt overwhelmed by all they had to do.


1992: Endeavour Takes Off, Financial Aid Policy Changes, and Freshmen are Concerned About Financing College

Posted by Jen Berdan Lozano on August 18th, 2015 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

Space Shuttle Endeavour touches down on Runway 15 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to complete the 16-day, 6.5-million mile journey on the STS-127 mission to the International Space Station. (This image is from NASA and placed in the public domain)

This year the Space Shuttle Endeavour made its maiden flight in May; and its second flight a few months later in September with the first African American woman in space, Mae Jemison. Now decommissioned and on display at the California Science Center, Endeavour flew 25 times into space, including the first mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. In Great Britain, barriers for women were broken down when the Church of England narrowly voted in favor of women becoming ordained as priests. Riots broke out in Los Angeles almost immediately upon hearing the verdict announcing that the officers that beat Rodney King on camera were acquitted. The L.A. Riots ultimately resulted in 55 deaths, thousands of burned buildings, and about $1 billion in damages.

In entertainment news, Euro Disney, now Disneyland Paris, held its grand opening in France. Disney also made headlines with their theater release of Aladdin, an animated movie that won multiple Oscars and became the most successful film of 1992. Ted Turner, no stranger to breaking molds in television, launched the Cartoon Network, broadcasting cartoons 24/7. The purple dinosaur that made its way into the hearts of millions premiered on PBS on Barney & Friends.

The 1992 Summer Olympics were held in Barcelona and were the first Olympic Games since 1972 to go off without any protests. With the end of Apartheid, the ban on South Africa was lifted and they joined the Olympic Games once again. Also, with the Cold War over, a reunified Germany sent one team, Estonia and Latvia sent independent teams for the first time since 1936, and Lithuania sent their first independent team since 1928. New sports added to the Games were badminton and women’s judo; and after six years of playing only exhibition games, baseball finally graduated to medal status. In addition, with basketball allowing professional players, the U.S. won the gold medal with the famous Dream Team, led by Magic Johnson, Michael Jordon and Larry Bird.

The Higher Education Amendments of 1992 were also signed into law this year. This reauthorization of the 1965 Higher Education Act effectively changed financial aid policy, shifting funding from grants to loans and making all students eligible for federal loans irrespective of income. The CIRP Freshman Survey asked incoming college students several questions regarding financing college. When asked the importance of financial factors in choosing their current college, half (50.1%) of students reported being offered financial aid as a “very important” or “somewhat important” factor. In addition, two thirds (66.9%) of freshmen cited that the fact that their current college has low tuition was a “very important” or “somewhat important” influence on their college choice.

Financial aid however doesn’t eliminate worries about paying for college. Seven out of ten incoming college students (70.2%) reported that they had either “major” or “some” concerns about their ability to finance their college education. When asked about how they are paying for college, almost a quarter (23.3%) of students had Pell grants and another 30.5% had taken out either Stafford or Perkins loans. Looking closer at Pell grant recipients, 39.8% of Latina/o students and 45% of African American/Black students had received Pell grants; these rates are dramatically higher than those of Asian American/Asian students (24.7%) and White students (20%).

Did you know? Four out of ten (41.5%) freshmen agreed “strongly” or “somewhat” that student publications should be cleared by college officials.

Half (50.2%) of freshmen rated themselves as either in the “highest 10%” or “above average” in originality compared to their peers.

About half (51.4%) of freshmen cited the encouragement of a mentor or role model as a “very important” or “somewhat important” influence on their college choice.


1991: Discussing Politics is Popular Amongst Incoming College Students While the Gulf War Shifts into High Gear and the Soviet Union Collapses

Posted by Jen Berdan Lozano on August 12th, 2015 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

USAF aircraft of the 4th Fighter Wing (F-16, F-15C and F-15E) fly over Kuwaiti oil fires, set by the retreating Iraqi army during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 (This image is a work of a U.S. Air Force Airman or employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.).

This year was a tumultuous one right out of the gate, beginning with the Gulf War and then wrapping up with the fall of the Soviet Union. The Gulf War ramped up from Operation Desert Shield to Operation Desert Storm overnight in January when the Iraqis refused to leave Kuwait. Missile strikes began first from the air, followed by troops hitting the ground later in February, and finally a cease fire agreement in April; all broadcast 24/7 on CNN. With the end of the Cold War, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) officially collapsed into separate independent countries; and on December 25th, 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as president and the Soviet hammer flag flew for the final time over the Kremlin.

Other events that ensued included the video-recorded brutal police beating of Rodney King that would eventually lead to the L.A. riots; Nelson Mandela’s wife, Winnie, was convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to six years in prison; the Dead Sea Scrolls were unveiled to the public; and Nirvana released their album, Nevermind, solidifying the grunge era and sparking flannel shirt sales. Also in major news and effectively changing the way information travels forever, Tim Berners-Lee officially launched the World Wide Web to the public and created the first website.

Amidst conflict and wars, it is no surprise that incoming college students often discussed politics. In fact, the CIRP Freshman Survey showed that over the previous year, 20.5% of incoming freshmen “frequently” and 52.8% “occasionally” discussed politics. Further, men were more likely to debate the issues than women with 23.9% of men compared to 17.6% of women “frequently” doing so. When looking at political affiliations, both sides equally discussed politics, with  about three out of ten students identifying as conservative/far left (29.2%), and those identifying as liberal/far right (29.4%) reporting “frequently” talking about the issues.

Students who discussed politics more often were also more likely to believe that they can bring about societal change. The Freshman Survey asked incoming students if they agreed with the statement, “Realistically, an individual can do little to bring about changes in our society.” As an incoming class, just over a third (36.3%) of students “strongly disagreed” with this statement. However, when looking at the students who “frequently” discussed politics, about half (49.1%) of these students “strongly disagreed.” Comparatively, out of the students who didn’t discuss politics at all, only 28% “strongly disagreed” that there is little that individual people can do to bring about change. The impact of discussing and being aware of current affairs can be gleaned from this snapshot of the data showing the connection to social agency. Further, students who have “frequently” discussed politics on their way into college are more likely to view keeping up to date with political affairs as an “important” or “essential” future goal (70.4%).

Did you know? Three out of ten (31.1%) of incoming freshmen “frequently” typed their homework assignments.

Two thirds (66.2%) of incoming freshmen “occasionally,” and fewer than one out of ten (8.9%) students “frequently” felt depressed.

Just over a quarter (27.1%) of incoming freshmen “agreed strongly” that a national health care plan is needed to cover everybody’s medical costs.


1990: Sue the T-rex, the Cold War Ending, and Students' Views on Military Spending

Posted by Jen Berdan Lozano on August 4th, 2015 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

Sue, the most complete fossil skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex specimen ever found. On display at the Field Museum in Chicago, IL. (Photo taken by Connie Ma and place in public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Major scientific and historic advances and accomplishments were made in 1990. The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into orbit. Antarctica was crossed for the first time on dogsled by the International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition consisting of six explorers all from different nations. Forty meters beneath the seabed, historic progress on the Channel Tunnel was made, where workers from the United Kingdom and France met–connecting England to mainland Europe by land for first time since the last ice age. In South Dakota, Sue was discovered as the largest, best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex to date.

In South Africa, the State President F.W. de Klerk, announced reforms including ending the segregation of public facilities such as libraries, buses, and swimming pools and releasing political prisoners, notably Nelson Mandela. This year also marked the start of negotiations between the African National Congress and the South African government to end apartheid in South Africa.

The Cold War comes to an end with the official demolition of the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie, the reunification of East and West Germany, and President George H.W. Bush and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev signing a treaty to end the production of chemical weapons. Later in the year, leaders of Canada, the United States, and European nations met in Paris to officially end of the Cold War.

Although the Cold War was ending, the Gulf War was just around the corner, sparked by Iraq invading Kuwait. With the military in flux, the CIRP Freshman Survey asked incoming college students their opinions about federal military spending. Overall, most freshmen did not think that military spending needed to be increased; only a quarter (25.1%) of students agreed that federal military spending should be increased. Men however, did agree slightly more than women on this issue, with 29% of men compared to 21.8% of women agreeing that military spending should be increased.

While the gender gap on this issue was noticeable, the gap between political affiliations was much more apparent. Incoming college students identifying as conservative or far right were much more likely to support military spending than liberal or far left students. More than a third (35.7%) of conservative or far right students agreed with increasing military spending, while only 17.9% of liberal or far left students did so. Over the coming decades, and numerous conflicts, military spending continues to be a hot and heavily debated issue.

Did you know? 35.8% of incoming freshmen agreed that colleges would be improved if organized sports were de-emphasized.

53.1% of incoming college students agreed that scientists should publish their findings regardless of the possible consequences.

56.8% of incoming college students “frequently” or “occasionally” took vitamins.