Study Says More Girls Complete College than Guys

According to a study called the “2007 National Freshman Attitudes Report” released today by Noel-Levitz, 95 percent of today’s first-year (college) students surveyed expressed a “strong desire” to complete college. Male students graduate from college at lower rates than female college students. For every 100 American women who earn a bachelor’s degree, on 73 guys earn a bachelor’s degree.

Research has shown that nearly half of all students who enroll as freshmen do not complete college and most students who drop out do so before their second year. Therefore, understanding student motivations and perceptions is critical to the mission of higher education institutions. Male students in particular graduate from college at lower rates than their female counterparts. For every 100 American women who earn a bachelor’s degree, just 73 American men earn a bachelor’s, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

The report, which is based on data collected from more than 97,000 incoming college freshmen at 292 institutions (public, private, two- and four- year) in the summer and fall of 2006, places a special emphasis on the differences in attitude between male and female college freshmen.

Gender differences were marked in some cases. For instance, entering female students arrive even more motivated to finish college than males, they bring stronger study habits, and are more likely to enjoy reading, while male students bring greater confidence in their math and science preparation. Among the findings:

* Only half of all entering students report that they receive personal satisfaction from reading books, with females enjoying reading much more than males (54 percent and 38 percent, respectively);

* Female entering students report stronger study habits. For instance, 69 percent of women report taking “very careful notes during class” and reviewing those notes prior to a test. Just 47 percent of males report the same habit.

* However, males report greater confidence in their math and science preparation. Fifty-three percent of males say they have a “good grasp of scientific ideas,” compared to 42 percent of females. Also striking was that 51 percent of females report having “a hard time understanding and solving complex math problems,” compared to just 40 percent of their male counterparts.

The study also revealed some differences by institution type. For example:

* Nearly half of students at two-year institutions (45 percent) expect to work more than 20 hours per week compared to just 19 percent of entering students at four-year public institutions and 27 percent of entering students at four-year private institutions;

* Students at two-year colleges were less likely than their peers at four-year colleges to report receiving family emotional support. For example, while 80 percent of freshmen at four-year public institutions agreed that “my parents usually understood me, respected my judgment, and treated me in ways that helped me grow,” just 70 percent of two-year college attendees agreed with that statement.

* Students at four-year public institutions were also more receptive to career counseling and to receiving certain types of financial guidance than other students. Sixty-nine percent of students at four-year public institutions report that they would like some help selecting an educational plan that will prepare them for a good job, compared to 57 percent of two-year students.

* Receptivity to talking to someone about student loans was similar across all institution types.

Most first-year students say they would welcome assistance in areas such as preparing for college exams (74 percent), career guidance (66 percent), math tutoring (48 percent), and assistance with getting a part-time job (46 percent).

The survey findings demonstrate that further exploration of entering students’ attitudes may be appropriate for postsecondary institutions.

The full report can be accessed at the Noel-Levitz website.

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