Survey: Freshmen show divided politics

Published: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 at 12:49 a.m.
More new college students are expecting to take on jobs, borrow at least $10,000 for their first year and receive that much from their families, according to a comprehensive annual survey of incoming freshmen released Monday.
UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute, which has been surveying freshmen annually for 39 years, also found a record number of students defining themselves as "far right" or "far left" politically and a record low calling themselves "middle of the road." Fewer than ever believe racial discrimination is a problem.
A record 47.2 percent of the 289,000 freshmen who started college last year said there is a good chance they will get a job to help pay for college.
The 29.5 percent expecting more than $10,000 in family support was the highest figure since the question was first asked in 2001. The percent expecting to borrow more than $10,000 their first year rose to 8.8 percent from 7.8 percent last year and 5.6 percent in 2001.
However, only 13 percent reported "major" concerns about paying for college, compared to a record high of 19.1 percent in 1995.
The survey also found more students than ever viewing themselves as at political extremes, with 3.4 percent calling themselves "far left" and 2.2 percent "far right."
The percentage of students identifying themselves as liberal (26.1 percent) or conservative (21.9 percent) also rose from last year. The category "middle of the road" remained the most common at 46.4 percent, but declined to its lowest level in 30 years.
The survey also found a record 22.7 percent of freshmen believe racial discrimination is no longer a problem in America.
, but the number reporting they frequently socialized with members of other racial or ethnic groups in high school fell slightly, as it has since 2001, to 67.8 percent.
Also rising: reported high school grades. An all-time high of 47.5 percent of freshmen said they had "A" averages in high school, compared to a record low of 17.6 percent in 1968.
The 42.8 percent who reported being bored in class during their final year of high school also was a record.

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