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North Carolina State University
First-Year Student Survey Trends, 1994-2009:

From 1994 to 2009, NC State has conducted its annual survey of entering first-year students during the summer prior to their first semester. From 1994 through 2008 the survey was administered during New Student Orientation. In 2009 the administration mode was revised, and students were asked to complete the survey online beginning the week after they attended Orientation. The change in mode and timing likely contributes to the changes in student responses to some items in the 2009 survey compared to earlier years.

Prior to 2009, the response rate for the "captive audience" paper and pencil survey ranged from 78 percent to 92 percent. The response rate for the post-Orientation online survey in 2009 was 70 percent. The overall survey response rate for all years is 85.2 percent.

Modest changes have occured in the profile of NC State's incoming students. The First-Year Student Survey asks incoming students for background information, such as the size of the community from which they come, household size, family income, the number of dependents (supported by their parents) currently enrolled in college, and parents' educational attainment. While student backgrounds have remained generally consistent, over the years the number of students reporting family incomes over $100,000 (in constant dollars) has been increasing, mothers' educational attainment has gotten higher, and the number of first-generation students in the incoming class has declined.

Students use of techology has evolved. In the 2000 survey one-in-five students said they were not bringing a personal computer to school or did not know if they would be. And, at that time less than half of those bringing a PC said it would be a laptop. By 2009, 97 percent of the incoming first year students were planning on bringing a laptop with them to NC State.

NC State's academic reputation and campus are attractive to prospective students. Across survey years, incoming students most commonly report academic reputation and level of support for my intended major as being the "single most influential factor" in their decision to attend NC State. Over the past five years campus visits prior to orientation has become notably more influential in students' decision to attend NC State. Suggesting that they are becoming increasingly likely to weigh these factors among various colleges in making their selection, the proportion of first-year students saying they applied to five or more colleges including NC State has almost doubled over the years of the survey, going from 13 percent in 1994 to 24 percent in 2009.

Since 1997, first-year students have grown increasingly satisfied with NC State's financial aid process. The percentage of students saying they are "very" or "moderately" satisfied with the financial aid process has increased across survey years, from 72 percent in 1997 to 83 percent in 2009. The percentage saying they were "very dissatisfied" dropped by one-half between 1997 and 2009.

High achievement is important to incoming students. More than 70 percent of first-year students in each survey year reported plans to obtain an advanced degree. In each year, a gradually increasing majority of students said that their primary goal for atttending NC State was to obtain a bachelor's degree as "preparation for graduate or professional school."

NC State students want a global education. Incoming students' expressed interest in study abroad/student exchange programs has dramatically increased over the survey years. In the 2009 survey about half of students said they wanted to participate in such programs, up from 19 percent in 1995.

NC State first-year students are prepared to relocate for post-graduate employment. Among those planning to seek employment after graduation, only one-fifth said they would seek employment in "North Carolina only." More than one-third of students in each year said that location was not important in their future employment plans. Another one-third or more said they would seek employment "anywhere in the USA."

For more information on trends in the First-Year Student Survey contact:
Dr. Nancy Whelchel, Associate Director for Survey Research
Office of Institutional Planning and Research
Box 7002
Phone: (919) 515-4184

Posted: July, 2010

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