Freshmen share expectations, insight

There are many items on the freshman year checklist, yet most students fail to see the instructions to take the Cooperative Institutional Research Program Freshman Survey. This year’s survey is called “SSU at a Glance: First-Time Freshmen 2013,” and was put online for all first-time freshmen to review, but students were not forced to take it.

This year, approximately 1,000 freshmen completed the survey; therefore the results are only the views of a portion of the freshman class. According to the survey, 79 percent of these 1,000 students expect to graduate in four years, even though nationally only 38 percent of freshmen actually do.

The survey has questions about why students decided to come to college and the results were that 88 percent thought it was important to get a good job, and 87 percent said it was very important to learn more about subjects that are interesting to them.

On top of being put onto the checklist, the survey was also emailed out to the deans and department chairs from the different departments on campus. Posters were also placed around campus on bulletin boards for students to view.

The survey was offered between May and August for students to take, giving the freshman class plenty of time to participate if they wished. The Cooperative Institutional Research Program is a program from University of California Los Angeles where they focus on making surveys that will hopefully better education systems throughout the whole nation.

The program studies the different factors that influence students to go to college and want a higher education. They provided Sonoma State University with two different surveys, including the one mentioned and another called “Your First College Year,” which was brought to SSU last year.

“I would like to start doing a senior survey to know how students have changed since beginning college,” said Director of Institutional Research Sean Johnson.

Johnson wasn’t sure how many years the survey had been at Sonoma State University because this is his first year with Academic Affairs, but he estimated anywhere between 12 to 20 years.

The survey is divided into three different sections: great expectations, diverse backgrounds, and choosing SSU. These sections cover a variety of questions ranging from students’ political views to where they grew up.

“Wanting to learn more in school speaks to what kind of students [we] get here at Sonoma State. We get students that are intellectually curious,” said Johnson. “Students that want to learn about subjects they might not have gotten the chance to learn in high school. This speaks well of our students.”

The answers to these questions do change over time, but not technically on a year-to-year basis. Over time trends change and so do the thoughts of students. The questions asked are revised or dropped completely from the survey based on relevance to the nation.

One frequently asked question on the survey asks about the students’ political views. In the freshman class, 50 percent of the students were in the middle of road politically, though their views seemed to lean liberal socially.

They were also asked about their opinion on undocumented immigrants receiving some sort of public higher education, and 60 percent of the students believed they should have access to the opportunity.

By participating in this survey, students are helping staff know what they can do to increase students’ chances of succeeding at Sonoma State University. It also helps the faculty by giving them an idea of who the incoming freshmen are as a whole.

The Cooperative Institutional Research Program survey is a tool that is intended to help both faculty and students get the best experience at Sonoma State University. This year’s survey can be found online at sonoma.edu/workplace/2013/10/01/freshmen.html.