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Fall 2014 BCSSE highlights and trend analyses

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 565 incoming freshmen during the most recent administration in Fall 2014.

Highlights from the Fall 2014 BCSSE administration include:

  • 74% of respondents were female
  • 66% of freshmen are first-generation students
  • Nicholls was the first college choice for 64% of freshmen
  • 44% of freshmen reported average high school grades of an A- or higher.  52% report average grades between B+ and B-, while the remaining 5% reported grades of C+ or lower.
  • 42% 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.
  • 21% of freshmen spent more than ten hours per week preparing for class during their last year of high school, while 41% spent more than 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, 66% of freshmen reported they expect to spend more than ten hours per week preparing for class during their first year of college, while 42% expect to spend more than ten 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.
  • 38% of freshmen expect a high degree of difficulty in managing their time
  • 37% of freshmen expect a high degree of difficulty in paying for college expenses.   83% will use scholarships and grants to pay for some amount of college expenses, while 44% 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.

Differences on BCSSE items by first-generation status:

As mentioned above, 66% of Fall 2014 BCSSE respondents were first-generation students. Notable differences were found on many BCSSE items by first-generation status, including:

  • First-generation students expect to work more hours during their first year of c0llege – 20% of first-generation students expected to work more than 20 hours per week during their freshmen year, compared with just 7% of other students. For a full breakout, click here.
  • First-generation students are less likely to summarize information learned during class – 52% of first-generation students said they summarized information learned in class or from course materials “often” or “very often”, compared with 61% of other students. For a full breakout, click here.
  • First-generation students are more likely to report difficulty paying for college – 24% of first-generation students expect paying for college expenses to be “very difficult”, compared with 16% of other students. First-generation students are less likely to have support from parents and relative in paying for college, and are more likely to use student loans. For a full breakout of the “difficulty paying for college” item, click here. For a chart showing use of payment sources for college by first-generation status, click here.
  • First-generation students expect lower grades than other students, but appear to predict their first-year grades more accurately – 36% of first-generation students expect to make an “A”or “A-”
    during their first-year, compared with 52% of other students (click here for a full breakout). However, when comparing expected vs. actual grades for 2013 BCSSE respondents, first-generation students had greater accuracy. For example, 80% of first-generation students that expected an “A-” average had a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher at the end of their first year, compared with only 45% for other students. For a full breakout, click here.

Differences on BCSSE items by reported high-school grades:

As mentioned above, 44% of Fall 2014 BCSSE respondents reported high school grades of “A-” or higher. Notable differences were found on many BCSSE items by high school grades, including:

  • High-achieving students spent more time preparing for class during their last year of high school – 52% of students with high school grades of A- or better expect to study more than 5 hours per week during their freshman year of college, compared with 41% of other students. For a complete breakout, click here.
  • High-achieving students were less likely to not complete assignments for class in high school – 53% of students with high school grades of A- or better reported never coming to class without completing readings or assignments, compared with only 37% of other students. For a complete breakout, click here.
  • High-achieving students feel more certain they will persist in the face of academic difficulty – For example, 24% of students with high school grades of A- or better were “very certain” they would study when there were more interesting things to do, compared with 18% of other students. For graphs on all Expected Academic Perseverance Scale items by high school grades, click here.
  • High-achieving students: 1) feel more confidence they learn on their own, 2) desire more academic support from their institution, and 3) are less likely to ask other student for help –  29% of high-achieving students felt “very prepared” to “learn effectively on [your] own”, compared with 24% of other students (click here for a full breakdown). 63% of high-achieving students felt it was “very important” that “[their] institution provides support to help student succeed academically”, compared with 57% of other students (click here for a full breakdown). In contrast,  only 51% of high-achieving students would “often” or “very often” ask another student for help understanding course material, compared with 62% for other students (for a full breakout, click here.)

Differences on BCSSE items by gender:

As mentioned above, 74% of Fall 2014 BCSSE respondents were female. Notable differences were found on many BCSSE items by gender, including:

  • Males expect to spend more time relaxing and socializing during their first year of college – 48% of males expect to spend more than 10 hours per week relaxing and socializing, compared with 36% of females (for a complete breakout, click here).
  • Males were less likely to prepare two or more drafts of an assignment before turning it in – Only 17% of males reported preparing two or more drafts of an assignment during their last year of high school, compared with 30% of females (click here for a full breakout).
  • Males are less sure they will ask instructors for help during their first year of college – Only 24% of males were “very certain” they would “ask instructors for help when you struggle with course assignments”, compared with 39% of females. For a complete breakout on this item, click here.
  • Males expect less difficulty in learning course material during their first year of college – Despite females reporting higher high school grades than males (see here), males expect less difficulty learning course material during their freshman year. 47% of males expected a substantial level of difficulty (e.g., a rating of 4 or higher on a 1-6 scale) in learning course material, compared with 63% of females. For a full breakout of this item, click here.

 

BCSSE trend analyses:

Nicholls began administering the BCSSE survey to incoming freshmen in 2009.   Since the survey has now been given 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 2009-2014, 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, with little change observed for 2014 respondents.  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 2009-14, click here.
  • Time spent on co-curricular activities during last year of high school and expected first year of college – Interestingly, while the number of hours students report spending on co-curricular activities during their senior year of high school has decreased almost two hours since 2011, the number of hours student expect to spent in these activities during the first year of college has increased 1.6 hours since 2009. For the full trend analysis, click here.
  • Financial difficulties – Compared with last year, 2014 BCCSE results show a stable level of difficulty in Nicholls freshmen reporting a high level of difficulty in paying for college.  To see trends in perceived student difficulty in paying for college, click here. Regarding college expenses, 2014 BCSSE students are less likely to use student loans and a job/personal savings as payment sources.  To see changes in the payment sources students use for college expenses (scholarships and grants, student loans, parents/family, or self-pay), click here.

History:

Complete results from the 2009-2012 BCSSE administrations can be found below:

2009 BCSSE administration

2010 BCSSE administration

2011 BCSSE administration

2012 BCSSE administration

2013 BCSSE administration

 

 

 

 

 

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