The University Record, September 12, 1994

Survey fo

By Mary Jo Frank

One month into fall term, many first-year students find the U-M isn’t as big or as daunting as they expected, according to a survey of randomly selected first-year and new transfer students.

The Office of Orientation’s Reach Out ’93, a telephone survey conducted last October, provides insight into the impressions and behaviors of the University’s newest students, says Pamela T. Horne, director of orientation and the Campus Information Center.

“It’s a program that provides a little personal touch at an institution that is sometimes characterized as impersonal,” she adds.

Freshmen reported studying an average of 19.22 hours per week while socializing 21.91 hours. Some 43 percent found their classes and academic work intellectually stimulating. Another 50 percent said their academic work was somewhat stimulating. Only 7 percent found it “not very exciting.”

Eight out of 10 first-year students surveyed said their classes and academics were “just about right.” Fourteen percent found it too challenging and 4 percent said it was not challenging enough.

Hanging out with friends, going to parties and going out to dinner were the most common social activities cited by students.

Sixty-nine percent of the students surveyed said they felt connected or very well connected. About 5 percent of the students surveyed felt isolated from the University.

Friends, roommates and hallmates, and faculty helped make them feel more connected, according to survey respondents.

When asked what surprised them the most about the U-M, 9 percent said it was not as big as expected, 7 percent said ease of work. Also frequently cited: big, weather and small class size.

Work load, how to study, self-motivation, no sleep and finances were the most frequently mentioned difficulties.

The Reach Out program, which will be repeated this fall, is a way for the University to connect with new students and do “follow-up” on the information and services provided as part of the admission and matriculation process, notes Horne, who says this year’s summer orientation was influenced by some of the Reach Out ’93 responses.

“It gives students a chance to talk to the University and also it provides some helpful data,” Horne says. For example, at a recent meeting with top student leaders on campus, she was told that students weren’t getting involved in campus organizations until their sophomore year.

Horne was able to share data with the leaders that indicated that more than half of the first-year students had joined a student organization during the first month of school. Among the most popular groups were sororities and fraternities and athletic, ethnic and academic organizations.

Students who had not yet joined an organization said they were too busy.

Molly Nicholson, student services assistant who prepared the 1993 final program report, says first-year students were eager to talk with callers. Often conversations between callers and students expanded beyond the interview script.

Reach Out ’93 surveyed 33 percent of last year’s 4,893 first-year students and 22 percent of the 850 new transfer students.