The Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE) is a national survey given to incoming freshmen as part of their University 101 class during the first two weeks of the fall semester. BCSSE asks freshmen about their academic and social experiences both during their last year of high school and their expectations for the first year of college. BCSSE was completed by 676 incoming freshmen during the most recent administration in Fall 2013.
Highlights from the Fall 2013 BCSSE administration include:
- 68% of respondents were female
- 68% of freshmen are first-generation students
- Nicholls was the first choice to college for 65% of freshmen
- 38% of freshmen reported average high school grades of an A- or higher. 55% report average grades between B+ and B-, while the remaining 7% reported grades of C+ or lower.
- 43% of freshmen expect average first-year grades of an A- or higher. 55% expect average grades between B+ and B- ,while the remaining 3% expect grades of C+ or lower.
- 20% of freshmen spent more than ten hours per week preparing for class during their last year of high school, while 40% spent ten or more hours working for pay. For a chart showing the average number of hours per week freshmen spent on four specific activities during their senior year of high school (preparing for class, working, participating in co-curricular activities, and relaxing/socializing), click here.
- In contrast, 63% of freshmen reported they expect to spend more than ten hours per week preparing for class during their first year of college, while 45% expect to spend ten or more hours working. For a chart showing the average numbers of hours per week freshmen expect to spend on the four activities mentioned above, click here.
- 43% of freshmen expect to discuss career plans with a faculty member, and 42% expect to discuss their academic performance with a faculty member, either “often” or “very often”
- 67% of freshmen expect some degree of difficulty in managing their time
- 55% of freshmen expect some degree of difficulty in paying for college expenses. 82% will use scholarships and grants to pay for some amount of college expenses, while 50% will use student loans. For a chart showing the amount of college expenses freshmen expect to be paid through various sources (scholarships and grants, student loans, parents and family, and self-pay), click here.
New 2013 BCSSE items and scales:
For the first time since the survey began, BCSSE has made significant modifications both in adding new items to the survey and in modifying the wording and answer choices for existing items. Descriptions and results from the new item and scales are provided below:
Number of hours per week spent on assigned reading – BCSSE added an item asking students how many hours per week they spent on assigned reading (out of the number of hours spent preparing for class). To see the number of hours freshmen spent on assigned reading during the last year of high school and the expected number of hours for their first year at Nicholls, click here.
Quantitative Reasoning – These items ask respondents how often during their last year of high school they engaged in behaviors such as reaching conclusions based on numerical information and using numbers to examine a problem or issue. For results from Nicholls freshmen, click here.
Learning Strategies – These items ask respondents how often during their last year of high school they used certain techniques while studying, such as reviewing notes after class and summarizing information. For results from Nicholls freshmen, click here.
Substantial differences on the Learning Strategies items were observed by gender, with female students using strategies more often than males. To see results for Learning Strategies items by gender, click here. To see results from other BCSSE items with significant gender differences, click here.
Collaborative Learning – These items ask respondents about their expectations for working with other students on academic issues during the upcoming school year. To see results from Nicholls freshmen, click here.
Faculty Engagement – These items ask respondents about their expectations for interacting with faculty during the upcoming school year in areas such as talking about career plans and discussing academic performance. To see results from Nicholls freshmen, click here.
Engagement with Diverse Others – These items ask respondents about their expectations for interactions with students from a different race/ethnicity, economic background, religion, and students with different political beliefs. To see results from Nicholls freshmen, click here.
Choice of institution – As mentioned earlier, 65% of freshmen reported that Nicholls was their first choice for attending a college or university. For a full breakdown, click here.
Distance from home – A new BCSSE item asks respondents the distance between Nicholls and where they lived during their last year of high school. 56% of Nicholls freshmen report that Nicholls is within one hour of their home during the last year of high school. For complete results, click here.
BCSSE trend analyses:
Nicholls began administering the BCSSE survey to incoming freshmen in 2009. Since the survey has been given to five consecutive freshmen cohorts, we are able to examine trends and changes over time regarding items of interest. Noteworthy trends over time include the following:
- First-generation status – The percentage of freshmen first-generation students has remained relatively stable over time, ranging from 60% in 2010 and 2011 to 68% in 2013. To see the percentage of first-generation freshmen between 2009-2013, click here. To see items on the 2013 survey where there were substantial differences between first-generation and non first-generation freshmen, click here.
- Time spent preparing for class during last year of high school and expected first year of college – Though the time spent preparing for class (both during the last year of high school and expected first year of college) remained relatively stable between 2009-12, significant decreases were observed for 2013 freshmen on both items. To see the average number of hours spent preparing for class during the last year of high school and expected first year of college between 2009-13, click here.
- Financial difficulties – Compared with last year, 2013 BCCSE results show a stable level of difficulty in Nicholls freshmen paying for college. To see trends in perceived student difficulty in paying for college, click here. To see changes in the payment sources students use for college expenses (scholarships and grants, student loans, parents/family, or self-pay), click here.
Complete results from the 2009-2012 BCSSE administrations can be found below: