Debra Humphreys, in her article “Success After College: What Students, Parents, and Educators Need to Know and Do” in the Spring 2013 Issue of Liberal Education cites the CIRP Freshman Survey finding that more than ever, students are pursuing a college degree “to get a better job.” She uses this to underscore her larger point that while employment after college is certainly important, students (and their parents) need a deeper understanding of how a college degree results in learning outcomes that best prepare them for success in the workplace and beyond. As the debate about how best to articulate the advantages of a college education continues, CIRP Freshman Survey findings are uniquely relevant in providing information about incoming students’ academic experiences, opinions and expectations for college.

We at CIRP see institutions using their Freshman Survey results in a number of important ways to articulate the importance of their educational mission and goals. For example, institutions use CIRP Freshman Survey results to establish expectations for general education coursework and to help first-year students align educational opportunities to maximize their learning. Faculty who teach first-year seminars use CIRP findings to start conversations with their students about when and how often to meet with faculty in office hours or outside of class, or how many hours per week of studying is appropriate in college. CIRP Freshman Survey results also help faculty articulate expectations for the kinds of writing, presenting, research, and cooperative learning students will encounter in their coursework, and why those skills are important to develop regardless of major or career aspiration. Lastly, academic advisors use CIRP Freshman survey results to discuss how participation in research with faculty, studying with other students, taking part in internships, and working with other students on group projects can help students integrate their learning and prepare them for success in their careers and life.

We also see many institutions using CIRP Freshman Survey results to understand the educational experiences students bring with them when they arrive on campus, and how they can best prepare students for success in the long term. For example, knowing that first generation students are less inclined to study abroad or expect to interact with faculty less frequently can suggest immediate and specific actions that can have considerable impact on student success.

Each administration of the CIRP Freshman Survey gives institutions the opportunity to provide students with important information regarding how to make the most of their college experience; and to provide faculty, staff, and administrators with information on students’ experiences and expectations that can be used to inform and shape discussions of pedagogy, practice and policy. Registration for the 2013 CIRP Freshman Survey is underway now. More information is available at http://www.heri.ucla.edu/cirpoverview.php