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.”