Findings from the 2014 Your First College Year (YFCY) Survey are discussed in our latest research brief; they are also highlighted in the recently released 2014 YFCY Infographic. This survey was administered to over 10,000 students this last spring at the end of their first year of college. Among the results are first-year students’ struggles with adjusting to college, communication with faculty, engagement with active and collaborative learning, civic awareness and engagement, and their early preparation for post-graduation.
The YFCY Survey measures multiples aspects of college adjustment and the results showed that time management was the most common hurdle for first-year students. Almost half (47%) of all students responded that they found managing their time either “very” or “somewhat” difficult; Latina/o students were the most likely to struggle, with 57% stating difficulties with managing their time. Most students (86%) stated that they have approached their professors for advice after class, and relatedly, understanding what their professors expect from them academically was the least of their troubles.
Mirroring our recent HERI Faculty Survey results where roughly half of faculty reported using online discussion boards in their classes, just over half (54%) of first-year students stated that they have posted on a course-related online discussion board. In-person dialogues continue to be the norm however with almost all students reportedly engaging in in-class discussions (96%) and talking about their course materials with other students outside of class (96%).
By linking the 2014 YFCY responses to the 2013 CIRP Freshman Survey responses we can measure students’ growth and change during their first year of college. These results highlight gains in students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. For example, over half of the students who entered college reporting their critical thinking and problem-solving skills as “average” now rate them as “somewhat strong” or a “major strength.” Continued development of these skills throughout college is important as both graduates and employers consider them essential on the job market.
Other results from the 2014 YFCY Survey not discussed in the brief include first-year students’ satisfaction with campus services and community. Overall, first-year students report being satisfied with their college experience. More than three quarters (78%) are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their overall academic experience. Specifically, students expressed satisfaction with their general education and core curriculum classes (72%), class size (74%), quality of instruction (75%), and academic advising (67%). Additionally, almost two-thirds (65%) were satisfied with the sense of community among students on campus. And with financial aid continuing to play a major role for many college students, the YFCY results showed that almost half of students (44%) utilized financial aid advising on campus. However, among these students, less than two-thirds (62%) reported being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their experience in the financial aid office on their campus, evidencing a greater need for support for students with financial needs on campus.
For more results from the 2014 YFCY, check out the research brief. (You can also see a full set of the national results here.)And don’t forget to register for the 2015 YFCY Survey to understand the experiences and adjustment of first-year students on your campus! YFCY survey can be administered on your campus between March 1st and June 12th, 2015.