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.

1989...CIRP, Not Taylor Swift's 2015 Album

Posted by Jen Berdan Lozano on July 29th, 2015 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

The fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989. The photo shows a part of a public photo documentation of the wall at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin. This photo is permanently placed in the public.

Most recently made popular by Taylor Swift’s latest album release, 1989 (named after the year she was born), this year is actually notable for many other reasons. Some of the more significant events include the historic fall of the Berlin Wall and the catastrophic Exxon Valdez oil spill, pouring 240,000 barrels (11 million gallons) of oil into Prince William Sound in the Gulf of Alaska. In January, George H. W. Bush was sworn in as the 41st president of the United States, and later in the year, the 14th Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Creating new addictions and countless lost hours, two new video game consoles hit the market: Nintendo’s handheld Game Boy and the Sega Genesis. SimCity was released for the personal computer (continuing to gain momentum in the marketplace), introducing the public to the intricacies of designing, building, and managing their own hypothetical cities complete with residents, or Sims, to maintain. People flocked to the theaters to see movies like Dead Poets Society, When Harry Met Sally, Batman, and the sequels to Ghostbusters and Back to the Future. Meanwhile, the small screen was invaded by the everlasting Energizer Bunny beating his bass drum across their television sets. And Walkmans and Discmans were playing Bobby Brown, New Kids on the Block, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, and Milli Vanilli’s debut album which spent eight non-consecutive weeks at number one and later, in 1990, earned them a Grammy – which was subsequently revoked after the artists confessed to not actually sing the lead vocals.

Amid major global and national events and being inundated with gaming, blockbuster movies, and platinum records, the CIRP Freshman Survey asked incoming college students how they typically spend their time. About three quarters (76.7%) of incoming students spent at least six hours a week socializing with their friends, and just over half (56.6%) said that they partied at least three hours a week (during their last year in high school). Less than a third (31.8%) of freshmen spent six or more hours a week in the past year watching television – perhaps with all the big releases this year going out to the movies was more fun.

When it came to academics, women were more likely than men to spend time during their last year of high school studying or doing their homework. With a ten percentage point gender gap, 47% of women compared to only 36.8% of men spent six or more hours per week studying. Women were also a bit more likely to volunteer, with 64.8% of women volunteering “frequently” or “occasionally” compared to 58.8% of men. Although most students stated that they spent time on computers, men were more likely than women to use a personal computer (be it for school work or playing the new SimCity game) with 80% of men doing so “frequently” or “occasionally” compared to 75.3% of women.

Today, students have shifted how they spend their time, spending less time partying and socializing with friends, and more time on online social networks.

Did you know? 55% of incoming freshmen had visited an art gallery or museum “frequently” or “occasionally” in the past year.

36.4% of incoming students thought that there was a “very good chance” or “some chance” that they would purchase a personal computer within the upcoming year.

43.7% of incoming students thought that there was a “very good chance” or “some chance” that they would need extra time to complete their degree requirements.

1988: Debuts of the Computer Virus and the Jamaican Bobsled Team, Plus Gallaudet University and Student Activism

Posted by Jen Berdan Lozano on July 21st, 2015 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

Gallaudet University Deaf President Now march on U.S. Capitol, 1988 (credit: Richard Layman, public domain)

Microsoft continued its success in 1988 with their release of Windows 2.1, capitalizing on the Intel processors. The first major computer virus, the Morris worm, went mainstream, changing the way the world viewed Internet security. Mystery Science Theatre 3000 debuted on television, captivating sci-fi audiences in the Twin Cities. Stephen Hawking published, “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes,” bringing cosmology to the masses. And the stealth bomber was unveiled, showcasing a decade’s worth of development in defense technology.

Canada hosted their first winter Olympics in Calgary and battled tough weather with strong warm winds, delaying numerous events and forcing the alpine competitions to be held on artificial snow for the first time in Olympic history. Aside from the weather, these winter Olympic games boasted a substantial highlight reel. Among the most memorable moments were the Battle of the Brians, in which Brian Boitano narrowly beat out Canadian Brian Orser for the gold in men’s figure skating, and the historical debut of the Jamaican bobsled team (later immortalized in Disney’s 1993 movie “Cool Runnings”).

In higher education news, Dr. I. King Jordan was elected as the first deaf president of Gallaudet University, after a week-long student protest, known as Deaf President Now (DPN), shut down the campus. This was a landmark event in the deaf civil rights movement and highlighted the power and effectiveness of student activism. Gauging the pulse of incoming freshmen on activism in the fall of 1988, the CIRP Freshman Survey questioned students about participating in such events. When asked if they had participated in organized demonstrations within the previous year, over a quarter (27.3%) of students responded that they had “occasionally,” and another 7.7% did so “frequently.”

Students who identified themselves as liberal or far left were more likely to take part in demonstrations than conservative or far right students. Almost four out of ten (38.9%) liberal or far left students compared to about three out of ten (31.3%) conservative or far right students stated that they had “occasionally” or “frequently” participated in organized demonstrations during their last year in high school. Further, women were more likely than men to participate: 37.4% of women versus 32.4% of men indicated their participation.

When asked about the importance of being influential, students overall leaned towards influencing social values more than the political structure. Only 16.8% of students stated that “influencing the political structure” was a “very important” or “essential” goal; while more than twice as many students (37.1%) stated “influencing social values” was a “very important” or “essential”goal. The gap between political affiliations narrows when looking at these goals, with liberal and far left students valuing a bit more than conservative and far right students influencing the political structure (24.1% liberal/far left vs. 22.7% conservative/far right) and social values (43.2% liberal/far left vs. 38.9% conservative/far right) .

Although as a whole, the incoming class leaned towards influencing social values more so than influencing the political structure as a goal, when broken out by gender, men and women responded differently. Women were more likely to consider influencing social values as a “very important” or “essential” goal (40.7% of women compared to 32.7% of men), while men were more likely to consider influencing the political structure as a “very important” or “essential” goal (19.8% of men compared to 14.2% of women).

Did you know? 68.5% of incoming students had done extra (unassigned) work/reading for a class in the past year.

71% of incoming students “agreed somewhat” or “agreed strongly” that employers should be allowed to require drug testing of employees or job applicants.

41.8% of incoming students rated themselves as “above average” or “highest 10%” compared to their peers in popularity with the opposite sex.

1987: Time of Their Lives Interrupted by Black Monday

Posted by Jen Berdan Lozano on July 14th, 2015 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

The Federal Reserve, Washington, D.C. (Credit: Photo taken by Stefan Fussan, placed in the public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

This year was a big year in the entertainment industry. Millions of viewers watched the premiere of television’s Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the Oscar and Grammy winning movie, Dirty Dancing opened on the big screen as a surprising box office hit (the movie almost went straight to video after poor reviews from test audiences!). U2 and Michael Jackson dominated the Billboard charts with their respective albums Joshua Tree (number 1 for nine consecutive weeks) and Bad (number 1 for five consecutive weeks). And the ever-growing Disney franchise signed agreements with the French Prime Minister to start constructing Euro Disney (now Disneyland Paris).

Although money seemed to be flowing in the entertainment biz, it was a different story elsewhere. Inflation was at 3.6% and with Alan Greenspan newly at the helm (appointed by Regan as the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board this year, and continually reappointed until his retirement in 2006), the economy was shocked by a stock market crash. On October 19, 1987, better known as Black Monday, the Dow Jones dropped a whopping 22.6%, one of the worst crashes in U.S. history (it may be no coincidence that only a couple of months later the FDA approved Prozac).

With the stock market crash looming around the corner and the economy soon to be on everyone’s minds, the CIRP Freshman Survey asked students in the fall of 1987 about their views on finances and concerns about the cost of college. Three quarters (75.6%) of incoming students stated that being very well off financially was a “very important” or “essential” goal. When parsed out by gender, being well off financially was more important to men than women. About four out of ten men (39.6%) compared to only three out of ten women (29.5%) considered this goal as being “essential.”

Believing that college is a path to financial stability and mobility, most incoming students (69.4%) “agreed strongly” or “agreed somewhat” that “the chief benefit of a college education is that it increases one’s earning power.” That being said, it makes sense that seven out of ten (71.3%) students indicated being able to make more money was a “very important” reason for attending college. The gender gap here was less noticeable, with 74.8% of men compared to 68.2% of women expressing this sentiment.

Finances also played a role in college choice for this incoming class, certainly a top issue that continues (and often dominates) college choice today. About one out of five students stated their college’s low tuition (20.9%) and/or their offer of financial assistance (20.2%) was a “very important” reason for choosing their college. Further, half of the incoming students expressed concern about financing their college education, with 49.0% having “some” concerns and 13.8% having “major” concerns. However, the financial aid offer did not dominate their decision-making process. Of the students who were not attending their first-choice college, only 9.3% of students stated not being offered aid by their first choice college was a “very important” reason for attending their current college. This number has increased significantly in recent years.

Did you know? 27.2% of incoming freshmen could use a sewing machine “well.”

33.7% of incoming freshmen wanted to learn how to sight-read piano music.

24.6% of incoming freshmen could describe the difference between stocks and bonds “well.”

1986: Incoming Students' Civic Engagement Amidst Hands Across America and the Chernobyl Disaster

Posted by Jen Berdan Lozano on July 7th, 2015 in News, News Homepage, Uncategorized | Comments Off

May 25th, 1986, Hands Across America at Eakins Oval along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

January 1986 kicked off with the legendary 1985 Chicago Bears beating the New England Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX. The Statue of Liberty celebrated its centennial. The European Economic Community, later to be known as the European Union, got a little bigger with the addition of Spain and Portugal. Tragedy struck the U.S. with the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger a mere seventy-three seconds after launching. The country mourned all seven crew members including Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher who won a contest to become the first American civilian to travel into space.

This year was also one of major advances in technology. IBM introduced mobile computing when they released the first laptop; Microsoft went public selling their shares on the stock market making thousands of millionaires; and Eric Thomas created LISTSERV automating and making mass emails easier than ever. In entertainment news, Top Gun rocked the box office becoming the highest grossing film of the year, and its accompanying soundtrack settled in at number one on the Billboard Hot 200 albums for five consecutive weeks; the Oprah Winfrey Show was broadcast nationally for the first time; and Phantom of the Opera debuted in London at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Multiple cover-ups of environmental disasters were attempted. The Soviets tried to conceal the disastrous meltdown at the Chernobyl power plant in the Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union), but when more than fifty tons of radioactive material were released into the atmosphere, several times that of an atomic bomb, Swedish monitoring stations detected the increased radiation almost a thousand miles away. Five thousand people were estimated to have died, eventually succumbing to the effects of that radiation in addition to the destruction of millions of acres of forest and farmland. In the Atlantic, the cargo ship Khian Seas wandered for 16 months looking for a place to dump 14,000 tons of ash from waste incinerators in Philadelphia. In the following years four thousand tons were dumped off the coast of Haiti and the rest in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Even multiple name changes to the ship over the course of the dumping couldn’t protect it and its crew from hiding the incident.

In an effort to battle poverty, millions of people joined hands to form “Hands Across America,” a benefit to fight hunger and homelessness. A grassroots movement was also sparked to ban smoking on airplanes, supported by a National Academy of Sciences publication that highlighted the high levels of smoke to which flight attendants were exposed. Gauging the pulse of American freshmen on civic engagement, the CIRP Freshman Survey asked questions related to volunteer work and participating in protests. In 1986, over half (52.9%) of incoming freshmen had volunteered “occasionally” during their last year of high school and 16.5% had volunteered “frequently.” Women were more likely to volunteer frequently. Almost one-fifth (19.5%) of female students stated that they volunteered “frequently” compared to only 13.1% of male students.

Foreseeing future civic actions, over a quarter (28.1%) of incoming students predicted either “some chance” or a “very good chance” that they will participate in student protests or demonstrations. Most students also indicated the importance of having the goal of participating in a community action program, with 18.5% stating participating as being “very important” or “essential,” and another 53.4% stating the goal as “somewhat important.” Possibly with environmental disasters on their minds, roughly the same percentage of students valued becoming involved in programs to clean up the environment. About 16% (15.9%) of incoming students stated this as a “very important” or “essential” goal and over half (53.3%) stated helping the environment as a “somewhat important” goal.

These incoming students are also critical of the federal government, the majority agreeing that the government is not doing enough to control environmental pollution. About half (50.5%) “agreed somewhat” and over a quarter (27.5%) agreed strongly that the feds weren’t doing enough. As the environment continues to be at the top of current issues, this sentiment persists today with incoming students. In 2014, over two-thirds (67.1%) of freshmen stated that the federal government should be doing more to address global climate change.

Did you know? 76.5% of incoming freshmen in 1986 stayed up all night “frequently” or “occasionally” their last year of high school.

Of the incoming students in 1986, 14.6% “agreed somewhat” and 5.8% “agreed strongly” that “the activities of married women are best confined to the home and family.”

When asked what contributed to students’ decisions to go to college, 9.4% stated that wanting to get away from home was “very important.”

1985: Nuclear Disarmament in a World of Perestroika: Incoming Freshmen's Opinions

Posted by Lesley McBain on July 1st, 2015 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

1985 blog

(Credit: Concorde supersonic aircraft in flight; taken by Adrian Pingstone on 26th November 2003 and placed in the public domain.)

Ronald Reagan was sworn in for his second term as president. A star-studded lineup of rock musicians in Philadelphia and London put on Live Aid, a 16-hour concert to benefit African famine victims. Phil Collins managed to perform at both concerts in the U.K. and the U.S. on the same day by taking the since-retired supersonic passenger jet, the Concorde, from London to Philadelphia.

In other international news, Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in Russia after the death of Konstantin Chernenko. Upon his assumption of power, Gorbachev began to enact perestroika , which restructured the Soviet Union not only economically, but politically and socially. Meanwhile, the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and its 400 passengers were hijacked by Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists who executed an elderly wheelchair-bound  Jewish American tourist. That same year, a TWA airliner was also hijacked by Hezbollah terrorists demanding first the names of those who sounded Jewish on board, then diplomats and Americans; the hijackers identified and tortured a group of U.S. Navy Seabees aboard, executing one.

This political upheaval meant the issue of nuclear weapons and disarmament loomed large around the world. Not only did Gorbachev make reducing nuclear arms in the Soviet Union one of his priorities, but he and Reagan met at a Geneva summit partly focusing on nuclear arms control. With this atmosphere in mind, incoming freshmen were asked not only questions about their view of society as a whole, but several questions relating to nuclear weapons and disarmament in the 1985 version of the CIRP Freshman Survey.

A general view with which respondents were asked to indicate their agreement or disagreement was “Realistically, an individual person can do little to bring about changes in our society.” Overall, 65.2% of respondents disagreed either “somewhat” or “strongly” with this statement. Only 6.9% of respondents agreed “strongly.” When broken down by gender, 62.7% of male students and 68.5% of female students disagreed either “somewhat” or “strongly.” A total of 7.6% of male students and 5.6% of female students agreed “strongly.”

When asked their reaction to the statement “Nuclear disarmament is attainable,” their optimism faded somewhat. While 54.3% agreed either “somewhat” or “strongly,” only 19.3% agreed “strongly.” Meanwhile, 46.5% disagreed either “somewhat” or “strongly,” of which 16.8% disagreed “strongly.” This varied slightly by gender. A greater percentage of male students (49.6%) disagreed either “somewhat” or “strongly” with the statement that nuclear disarmament was attainable than female students (41.6%). Incoming freshmen’s self-identified political viewpoints and reactions were related; 67.2% of students identifying as far right politically disagreed either “somewhat” or “strongly” with the statement that nuclear disarmament was attainable compared to 57.4% of those identifying as politically conservative, 43.7% identifying as politically middle-of-the-road, 37.7% identifying as liberal, and 34.6% identifying as far left.

However, incoming freshmen largely agreed with the statement “The Federal government is not doing enough to promote disarmament”; a total of 67.9% agreed either “somewhat” or “strongly.” When broken down by gender, 75.9% of female students agreed either “somewhat” or “strongly,”15.9 percentage points higher than the 60% of male students who agreed either “somewhat” or “strongly.” Students’ responses also varied by political affiliation. For instance, 78.4% of incoming freshmen who identified as politically far left agreed either “somewhat” or “strongly” that the federal government was not doing enough to promote disarmament, whereas only 32.9% of those incoming freshmen who identified as politically far right agreed either “somewhat” or “strongly.”

While no survey can completely capture the Zeitgeist of a given era or individual year, these responses highlight a dual optimism and pessimism among many freshmen who entered college in 1985 about nuclear disarmament, an issue still debated by the international community today.

Did you know?: 25.9% of entering college freshmen in 1985 thought it “very important” in their choice of college that “This college has a good reputation for its social activities.”

28% of entering college freshmen in 1985 considered “Becoming an authority in my field” as an “essential” career goal.

59.6% of entering college freshmen in 1985 agreed either “strongly” or “somewhat” with the statement “The Federal government is not doing enough to protect the consumer from faulty goods and services.”


1984: Incoming Freshmen's Computer Knowledge the Year Macintosh Computers Were Born

Posted by Lesley McBain on June 24th, 2015 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

1984 blog

Olympic Gateway on UCLA campus, photo credit UCLA)

This was the year made infamous by the George Orwell dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (published in 1949). It was also an Olympic year in which UCLA took part in the Los Angeles hosting of the Summer Olympics. The 1984 Summer Olympics were not only the first privately financed Games ever (raising a $225 million surplus) but were boycotted by Russia and 13 Soviet allies in retaliation for the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games. UCLA athletes won 37 medals. In non-Olympic news, Ronald Reagan was re-elected President. Top-selling album releases included Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. (the title track of which was famously misunderstood by the Reagan campaign, much to Springsteen’s displeasure), Prince’s Purple Rain, Michael Jackson’s Thriller (for the second consecutive year) and the soundtrack to Footloose. U2 and R.E.M. also released albums; punk and alternative releases included those from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Hüsker Dü, and Black Flag.

And, in the world of science and technology, not only did the U.S. Supreme Court rule that taping television shows on video cassette recorders for home viewing did not violate copyright law, but Apple introduced the first Macintosh computer. Notably, Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA) was the first member of the Apple University Consortium to require all entering freshmen to purchase Macs. So how interested in studying computers and technology were the incoming college freshmen of 1984, three years after the first personal computer was introduced and the year the Mac was born?

The Freshman Survey asked a number of questions measuring entering students’ interest in and prior experience with science and technology, some of which were computer-specific and some of which were more general. Specific questions about computers asked incoming freshmen about their having written a computer program or taken a computer-assisted course in the past year as well as how many years they had studied computer science in high school.

Overall, 27.7% of respondents had “frequently” written a computer program in the past year, 28.3% had “occasionally” done so, and 44% responded “not at all.” When examined by gender, 32% of male students and 23.7% of female students had “frequently” written a computer program in the past year; 31.6% of male students and 25.4% of female students had “occasionally” done so; 36.4% of male students and 50.9% of female students responded “not at all.” The gender gap is most prominent in the category of “not at all,” with a 14.5 percentage point difference between female and male students.

The majority of incoming freshmen (58%) had never taken a computer-assisted course in high school; 22.1% had done so “occasionally,” and 19.9% had done so “frequently.” When asked the number of years they had studied computer science in high school, 42.6% reported not having studied it at all; 26.8% reported having studied it for one year; 23.6% reported having studied it for half a year. Only 5.6% reported having studied computer science for two years; 1% had studied it for three years.

This seems to have been reflected in entering freshmen’s opinions regarding their probable college majors and careers. At the time, the answer options offered to respondents related to computers fell into either “computer science” or “data processing or computer programming.” Only 3% of respondents indicated their probable major would be “computer science”; 1.5% of respondents indicated their probable major would be “data processing or computer programming.” Of the probable computer science majors, 61.3% were male and 38.7% female; of the probable data processing or computer programming majors, 62.8% were male and 37.2% female. When looking at students’ projected careers,  only 4.6% of respondents planned to be computer programmers or analysts.

In a testament to how times have changed both for CIRP’s assessment of incoming freshmen’s experience and with and interest in studying computers, 31 years after these entering freshmen were surveyed, Apple has launched a watch housing computer apps and 79.2% of incoming freshmen in 2013 rated their computer skills either “average” or “above average.” But back in 1984, these technological leaps had yet to be made. Video cassette recorders, after all, were still the big thing.

Did you know?: 71.6% of incoming college freshmen in 1984 reported that in the past year, they had not overslept and missed a class or an appointment.

57.1% of incoming college freshmen in 1984 thought there was either “some” or a “very good chance” that they would change their career choice.