Portland State University
Office of Institutional Research and Planning
Volume 4, Issue 3 Fall 2000
ENTERING STUDENT SURVEY 2000
During Winter and Spring 2000, the Office of Institutional Research and Planning (OIRP) surveyed entering students whose first term at PSU was Summer or Fall 1999. Of the 1,500 undergraduate students who received the survey, 428 responded, resulting in a 29% response rate. Women and students who entered as transfers were over-represented among respondents. In addition, respondents had higher mean high school GPAs, cumulative PSU credit hours and GPAs, and PSU term credit hours than non-respondents. Below is a summary of the survey results, including comparisons of freshmen and transfers.
Students in the sample had the choice of completing the survey on-line or using a scannable form. The majority (70%) chose to use the scannable form. In general, the responses of those who completed the on-line form were similar to the responses of those who completed the scannable form. One significant difference was that those who completed the survey on-line reported higher levels of personal computer and E-mail skills than those who completed the scannable form (see Figure 1).
One third of respondentsí fathers (34%) and mothers (39%) had not attended college. Twenty-one percent of respondents were the first generation in their families to attend college (i.e., neither parent has graduated from college).
Two-thirds of entering students (69%) applied for financial aid for the academic year. Most students (76%) planned to work during the school year; over a third (36%) planned to work between 16 and 25 hours weekly (see Figure 2). Less than 10% of employers assisted in paying part or all of studentsí educational cost.
Over half (56%) of respondents rated themselves as relatively skilled at using computers and half (51%) reported they are relatively skilled at using E-mail. Two thirds (68%) had access to a computer at home only; 21% had access to a computer at both home and at work. Most (87%) had reviewed their PSU student records on the World Wide Web.
DECIDING TO ATTEND PSU
Most entering students (72%) applied only to PSU for admissions for Fall 1999. Over half (54%) of the students reported that PSU was their first choice. More transfer students than freshman indicated PSU was their first or only choice (see Figure 3).
Students referred to many sources of information in deciding where to attend college, however, most students indicated they relied on the experiences of family and friends (40%), the PSU Web page (24%) and the PSU catalog and schedule of classes (21%).
Almost half (45%) of entering students indicated that academic performance was their top concern as they entered PSU. Another third (35%) indicated that finances were a top concern.
Respondents rated the importance of various factors that played a role in deciding to enroll in college on a scale of 1 (Not important at all) to 5 (Very important). Reasons for going to college varied, but those rated most important included receiving a college degree preparing for a career, acquiring knowledge applicable to a specific job, and enriching oneís life (M ranged from 4.61 to 4.20).
Using the same scale, respondents rated the importance of various reasons for deciding specifically to attend PSU. The factors that students rated as most important in choosing PSU included the cost, program offerings, and the ability to stay in the Portland area (M ranged from 4.00 to 3.82).
The highest degree 43% of entering students intended to earn was a Masterís degree; 27% were seeking a Bachelorís degree. The majority of students (63%) indicated that PSU offers the courses they need to achieve their long-range career plans, but 25% were unsure.
When asked about their immediate educational plans, most students (80%) reported that they were taking courses to complete their Bachelorís degree at PSU. As shown in Figure 5, the immediate education plans of freshmen and transfer students differed. More transfer students than freshmen indicated that their immediate educational plan is to earn their Bachelorís degree. More freshmen than transfer students planned to transfer.
TRANSPORTATION & STUDENT HOUSING
Most entering students used public transportation (47%) or drove alone (35%) as their primary means of transportation to PSU. More freshmen (38%) than transfer students (25%) reported walking as their primary method, whereas more transfer students (40%) than freshman (24%) reported driving alone as their primary method.
During their first term at PSU, most entering students reported living with their parents (38%) or renting a private home, apartment, or residence (35%). Only 17% resided in student housing. More freshmen than transfer students lived with their parents (61% and 26% respectively) or in student housing (23% and 14% respectively). Transfer students were more likely than freshman to rent (46% and 14% respectively) or own a private residence (12% and 1% respectively). In deciding where to reside, cost was an important consideration regardless of the final decision; 83% of all respondents rated cost as important or very important.
ACADEMIC & SOCIAL EXPERIENCES AT PSU
Students rated their agreement with general statements about their experiences on campus and in classes. Most respondents agreed or agreed strongly that at least one of their classes was intellectually stimulating (92%) and that they were in classes they wanted to take (74%). Over half (54%) had met a faculty member they felt they could talk to.
When asked how often they engaged in specific academic activities during their first fall term at PSU, students reported working in groups on projects, using the library or Internet for research, and narrowing a topic or revising drafts most frequently. Half of students reported participating at least once during Fall Term in most of the academic activities listed on the survey, however, only 22% reported that they had designed a scientific experiment. (See Figure 7.)
Freshman reported engaging in many of these academic activities more frequently than transfer students. More freshmen than transfer students reported completing creative writing assignments (70% and 39% respectively), using graphical tools (84% and 58% respectively), giving oral presentations (92% and 72% respectively), working on community issues (74% and 56% respectively), participating in activities with diverse persons (73% and 58% respectively), narrowing a topic and revising drafts (96% and 82% respectively), and working in groups (98% and 91% respectively). More transfer students (57%) than freshmen (44%) reported writing at least one research paper.
Students also rated how factors related to PSUís location in an urban setting contributed to or detracted from their education. As shown in Figure 8, most students (89%) reported that opportunities for interacting with persons different from them contributed somewhat or very much to their education.
The majority of students (71%) reported that traffic and parking issues detracted from their educational experience at PSU. Half of students (49%) indicated that the cost of housing and 25% indicated that availability of housing detracted from their experience.
Despite the fact that only 25% of entering students reported that they were participating in any special programs, student organizations or other groups at PSU, most students (83%) agreed or agreed strongly that they were socially comfortable coming to campus and attending class at PSU. Seventy percent reported that they have met other students who may become their friends; more freshmen (77%) than transfer students (67%) agreed or agreed strongly with this item. Few students (11%) agreed or strongly agreed that they expect alcohol to be a significant part of their social life at PSU.
SATISFACTION WITH PSU
The majority of students reported high or very high satisfaction with Web registration (80%) and Web admissions procedures (66%). (See Figure 6.) Over half of the students were satisfied with application procedures (59%) and service from Admissions Office staff (55%). Respondents were generally less satisfied with advising than admissions; less than half of respondents (27% to 40%) indicated high or very high satisfaction ratings on these items. Students were more satisfied with advising on requirements for their major (40%) than they were with advising on general education requirements (34%).
Overall, entering students reported that their initial experiences at PSU were positive. Most indicated that PSUís urban setting had contributed to their educational experience. Their satisfaction ratings were generally favorable and they reported engaging in a variety of academic activities during their first term at the University.
For more information about the survey, please contact Juliette Stoering, Office of Institutional Research and Planning, 503-725-3427, email@example.com, or go to the OIRP Website, www.oirp.pdx.edu.
Juliette Stoering, Institutional Research Analyst, and Jodi Brekhus, Graduate Assistant created this edition of the Portland State University Research Update.