North Carolina State University:
2002 First-Year Student Survey
- NC State conducted its annual survey of entering first-year students during
New Student Orientation sessions held in July and early August 2002.
- The survey response rate was 87.8% (N=3,209 of 3,653).
- There were no significant gender or racial/ethnic differences between the
first-year students actually enrolled at NC State and those responding to
- Over half of all survey respondents (62.9%) expected to receive some form
of financial aid, slightly up from 59.3% in the 2001 survey. Nearly
equal proportions of respondents expected aid based on academic ability (33.6%)
and financial need (35.4%). Substantially more African American students expected
to receive financial aid (87.2%) than whites (59.6%) or other minorities (67.0%).
In the current survey, more than twice as many African Americans than whites
expected aid based on financial need (65.4% vs. 30.9%) . African Americans
were also more likely than whites to expect aid based on academic ability
(42.3% vs. 32.5%).
- One third (33.4%) of white respondents reported family incomes over
$100,000 per year, compared to 8 percent of African Americans and 25.9 percent
of other minorities. African American respondents were nearly five times more
likely than whites to report family incomes of $25,000 or less (24.9% vs.
- The most common parent/guardian educational attainment reported by
all respondents was a four-year baccalaureate degree. A majority of fathers/male
guardians (62.5%) and mothers/female guardians (58.4%) had a baccalaureate
or higher (e.g. M.S., Ph.D.) degree. African American and other minority respondents
were more likely than whites to report that neither parent had attended college
(16.8%, 14.5%, and 6.3% respectively).
- A majority of first-year students (61.2%) reported having four or more people
currently supported by parents/guardians. However, African American respondents
were more likely than whites to report having two or fewer dependents in their
household (25.6% vs. 14.9%). In addition, over two-thirds (67.8%) of all respondents
reported that they were the only dependent currently enrolled in college.
African Americans were slightly more liekly than whites to be the only dependent
enrolled in college (73.5% vs. 67.3%).
- More than half of respondents report coming from either a "moderate size
city" (27.1%) or a "small town" (26.7%). Non-African minorities were more
likely than either white or African American respondents to be from a large
city or urban area (33.9%, 28.6%, and 28.4% respectively).
- "Baptist" was the most common religious preference reported by respondents
(24.7%), followed by Methodist (14.8%) and Catholic (12.8%). About 15% of
respondents indicated "no preference."
- Over 40 percent of respondents said they were "well prepared"
for college by their high school (43.7%) and by their own efforts (44.3%).
African Americans (33.5%) were slightly less likely than whites (45.1%) and
non-African American minorities (41.2%) to say they were "well prepared"
by their high school. African Americans (32.0%) and other minorities (38.7%)
were less likely than whites (46.3%) to say they were "well prepared"
through their own efforts. Men were also slightly less likely than women to
feel "well prepared" through their own efforts (44.3% vs. 47.3%).
- Over 80 percent (86.1%) of all respondents will be bringing either a desktop
or laptop computer to campus. However, African American respondents were much
more likely than others to say either they would not be bringing a computer
(10.1% vs. 2.1% [whites], and 4.7% [non-African American minorities]) or that
they were not sure if they would (23.9% vs. 8.9% [whites], and 13.5% [non-African
American minorities]). The large majority of all those bringing a computer
reported that it would be able to connect to the Internet (92.1%).
- Non-African American minorities were more likely than whites and African
Americans to say they would seek employment in any location after graduating
from NC State (41.8%, 35.7%, and 35.2% respectively). Men were also more likely
than women to say they would seek employment "anywhere" (38.8% vs.
32.3%). Less than 15 percent of all respondents (14.4%) say they plan to look
for employment only in North Carolina.
Applying to College
- Half of respondents (51.4%) applied to three or more colleges including
NC State. Men and white respondents were more likely than women and African
Americans, respectively, to have applied only to NC State (men: 28.5% vs.
women: 19.2%; and whites: 27.3% vs. African Americans: 8.7%).
- About two-thirds of survey respondents reported that after applying for
admission to NC State they received a letter from someone at NC State other
than the Admissions Office (64.6%). Considerably fewer respondents reported
receiving calls from NCSU faculty/staff (21.2%), current NCSU students
(20.3%), or NCSU graduates (7.6%). The percentages of each type of
contact increased over that reported in the 2001 survey, especially for African
Americans. As in the 2001 survey, African American respondents were much more
likely than whites and non-African American minorities to have received a
call from NCSU faculty/staff (44.9%, 18.4%, and 19.9%, respectively)
or a current NC State student (39.6%, 18.4%, and 14.6%, respectively)
during the admissions process.
- African Americans were consistently
more likely than whites to rate the various factors asked about as a "very
strong influence" in their decision to attend NC State. Differences were
especially large in ratings for the influence of scholarships/financial
aid (38.9% vs. 15.2%) and a campus visit prior to orientation
(26.6% vs. 13.1%). The factors rated most influential in the decision
to attend NC State by respondents overall were academic reputation
(26.2%), level of support for my intended major (13.5%), availability
of program (12.8%), and location (11.4%). However, there was some
racial/ethnic variation in which factors were rated "most important."
Whites were more likely than African Americans to rate level of support for
my intended major (14.0% vs. 9.5%) and availability of program
(13.5% vs. 6.8%) as the most important factor. African Americans were more
likely than whites to rate academic reputation(32.4% vs. 25.5%)
and scholarships/financial aid available (11.5% vs. 5.0%) as most
- The vast majority of respondents were "moderately" or "very satisfied" with
university (94.1%) and departmental (92.6%) admissions processes.
Fewer respondents (71.2%) reported being "moderately" or "very satisfied"
with the university financial aid process. African American respondents
were more likely than whites and non-African American minorities to they were
"very satisfied" with the financial aid process (39.7%, 23.6%,
and 25.1% respectively). The percentages of each group saying they were "very
satisfied" with the financial aid process, however, declined from that
reported in the 2001 survey.
Educational Intent and Interest
- Almost 90 percent (86.6%) of respondents intended to take a course load
of 15 credit hours or more during their first semester. Among those taking
less than 15 credit hours, the most common reasons reported were "want
to make better grades" and "courses wanted unavailable."
- The majority of respondents (72.3%) indicated 4 years as the amount of
time intended to complete a degree at NC State. Respondents' intended
time to complete degree varied by college. One-third or more of Engineering,
Natural Resources, and Design students indicated that it would take them more
than four years to complete their degree.
- Nearly two-thirds (64.3%) of women compared to about half (49.1 percent)
of men said they intended to obtain a baccalaureate degree as preparation
for graduate or professional school. Men, on the other hand, were more likely
than women to say their primary goal was to earn a bachelor's degree in preparation
for a career (34.7% vs. 25.5%). Similarly, African American and other minorities
were more likely than white respondents to say their primary goal was to prepare
for further education (62.1%, 54.2%, and 60.3% respectively). White respondents
were more likely than others to say their primary goal was to prepare for
a career (32.0% vs. 24.5% [African Americans], and 25.9% [non-African American
- Women (41.0%) and African Americans (48.5%) were much more likely than men
(24.8%) and whites (28.9%), respectively, to report planning on going beyond
a Master's degree. Women were eight times more likely than men to plan on
getting a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (8.8% vs. 1.1%), and more than
twice as likely to plan on getting a medical degree (12.0% vs. 5.3%). African
American respondents were about twice as likely as whites to plan on getting
a Doctoral degree (24.6% vs. 12.5%) or a law degree (8.1% vs. 4.2%). Respondents???
educational aspirations also varied by college. Respondents in the First-Year
College, College of Natural Resources and the College of Textiles were
more likely than those in other colleges to say they planned on stopping at
the baccalaureate. Physical and Mathematical Sciences respondents were much
more likely than others to plan on getting a Ph.D.. College of Agriculture
and Life Sciences respondents were more likely than others to plan on getting
a Medical or Veterinary degree, and those in the Humanities and Social Sciences
were more likely than others to say they were going to get a law degree.
- About 70 percent of respondents at orientation sessions indicated that they
were "certain" (41.1%) or "very certain" (27.0%) of their choice of college
major. African Americans were more likely than whites and other minority
respondents to have said they were "very certain" of their choice
of major (34.0%, 26.4%, and 24.2%, respectively).
- Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64.6%) did not intend to work during
their first semester at NC State. Non-African American minorities were
more likely than either African American or whites to plan on working their
first semester (51.9%, 40.5%, and 33.4% respectively). The percentages of
African Americans, and especially of non-African American minorities, who
say they will be working notably increased from that reported in the 2001
survey. However, similar to the 2001 survey, the majority of all those in
the current survey who plan on working said they would work less than 20 hours
per week (84.2%).
- Overall, respondents indicated greatest interest in intramurals (52.4%),
and fitness (48.2%) from a list of 27 co-curricular activities and
programs. In general, more women than men expressed an interest in the various
activities listed. Women were especially more likely than men to be interested
in student dance company, gender issues, crafts center programs, performing
arts, and planning programs/services. Men, however were much more
likely than women to have expressed an interest in intramurals, club
sports, the co-op program, informal recreation, and ROTC.
African Americans were much more likely than whites to report being interested
in leadership activities, such as student government, the student leadership
program, residence hall council, Student Judicial Board,and the
Union Activities Board. White respondents were more likely than African
Americans to express interest in outdoor and athletic activities, such as
outdoor adventures, intramurals, club sports, and informal recreation.
Student Goals for Undergraduate Education
- Respondents consistently rated the importance of 35 knowledge, skills,
and personal development goals higher than their current level of development
of those goals. As a whole, survey respondents look for improvement in
- On average, respondents gave higher ratings of current level of development
to personal development goals (e.g. responsibility for own behavior
[mean=4.21] and viewing learning as a lifelong process [4.04]) and
to world view goals (e.g. valuing racial equity [4.18] and valuing
gender equity [4.14]). Respondents gave lower average ratings to their
current level of development of general education goals (e.g., ability
to apply mathematics skills [3.77] and good listening skills [3.75]).
- Respondents consistently rated the importance of personal development goals
(e.g. taking responsibility for my own behavior [4.54] and managing
my time [4.53] ) much higher than either general education or world view
- Scatterplots depicting the importance and current level of development of
each goal reveal that taking responsibility for my own behavior ranks
high in both importance and current level of development. Goals ranking high
in importance but lower in development include managing my time and
handling stress. Goals central to the University's core general education
curriculum received the lowest ratings for both perceived importance and the
student's current development (understanding the present as it relates
to history, developing an appreciation of the arts, and developing
the ability to apply scientific principles).
- The patterns of individual goal rankings remained fairly stable by gender
and race/ethnicity. However, African American respondents consistently assigned
higher ratings to both goal development and importance than did white respondents.
For more information on the 2002 First-Year Student Survey contact:
Dr. Nancy Whelchel, Associate Director for Survey Research
Office of Institutional Planning and Research
Phone: (919) 515-4184
Posted: April, 2003
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