Wake Forest University freshman class in Spring 2017 reflected more positively overall on their first year experiences than peers at many of the other 30 institutions administering the HERI Your First College Year (YFCY) survey and when compared to Wake’s 2015 freshman. In particular, Wake’s 2017 respondents shared high levels of Overall Satisfaction and Sense of Belonging. Several differences surfaced within Wake sub-groups (e.g. by race, gender, having financial concern). For example, respondents in the numerical majority (i.e., White, females, or having no financial concerns) scored higher in Academic Adjustment while trending lower in Negative Cross-Racial Interactions.
Your First College Year (YFCY) is a national survey directed at UCLA by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI), useful for determining from end-of-year freshmen their experiences and satisfaction with a number of areas across the university. In conjunction with The Freshmen Survey (TFS) administered in the fall as students enter Wake Forest, YFCY provides data on how the first year of college affects students. YFCY was first administered to Wake Forest freshmen in 2013 and has since been administered every year except for 2016.
YFCY was distributed online by the Office of Institutional Research in March 2017 to all Wake Forest freshmen. A total of 241 first-time, full-time freshmen submitted responses, representing 18% of the freshmen class. A greater percentage of survey respondents compared to the entire freshman class self-identified as female (63% vs 53%). More respondents reported being Asian (18% vs 11% in the entire class), while fewer reported being Hispanic/Latino (3% vs 8%).
WFU Compares Favorably to Nation on Item Constructs
Due to the large quantity of individual questions asked and the complexity of assessing specific areas of potential concern, HERI developed a number of constructs which group information gathered from numerous items into more reliable, cumulative measures. These construct scores, which provide a way of looking at overall trends among survey responses, have a population mean of 50 and a standard deviation of 10 across all administering institutions.
Top Constructs in which WFU scored above the national average (WFU Average Score) include:
- Social Agency (56.1)
- Overall Satisfaction (55.3)
- Sense of Belonging (53.9)
- Pluralistic Orientation (53.7)
(Note: conservative margin of error +/- 1.5)
The construct in which Wake Forest respondents scored notably below the national average was Science Self-Efficacy (47.5).
WFU differed meaningfully from other Private Universities in ten constructs. WFU scored higher than other Private Universities on eight positive constructs: Overall Satisfaction (55.3 vs 50.5), Sense of Belonging (53.9 vs 52.2), Civic Engagement (53.1 vs 51.3), Faculty Interaction: Contact and Communication (52.7 vs 50.0), Satisfaction with Coursework (52.6 vs 49.8), Leadership (52.0 vs 50.2), Habits of Mind (51.4 vs 49.7), and Academic Self-Concept (50.5 vs 48.2). WFU scored lower than other Private Universities on one negative construct, Academic Disengagement (47.8 vs 50.0) and higher on Negative Cross-Racial Interaction (51.5 vs. 50.2).
Construct Comparisons within Wake Forest
Construct scores which trended positively between WFU 2017 and WFU 2015 included increased scores in Overall Satisfaction (55.3 vs 48.8), Satisfaction with Coursework (52.6 vs 48.7), and Sense of Belonging (53.9 vs 50.3), and decreased scores in Academic Disengagement (47.8 vs 51.0) and Negative Cross-Racial Interaction (51.5 vs 54.2). Construct scores which trended negatively between WFU 2017 and WFU 2015 included decreased scores in Positive Cross-Racial Interaction (51.2 vs 54.3), Civic Awareness (49.9 vs 52.4), and Habits of Mind (51.4 vs 53.1).
Wake Forest freshman class in 2017 scored differently by gender on six constructs. Men scored higher on Social Self-Concept (53.6 vs 50.5), Science Self-Efficacy (49.4 vs 46.4), and Academic Disengagement (49.2 vs 46.9). Women scored higher on Social Agency (57.2 vs 54.2), Civic Engagement (53.8 vs 52.0), and Academic Adjustment (51.5 vs 50.0).
Wake Forest freshman class in 2017 scored differently by race on 14 of 18 constructs. In comparison with All Other Races, White freshmen scored most notably higher on Sense of Belonging (55.4 vs 50.2), Overall Satisfaction (56.7 vs 51.7), Leadership (53.3 vs 48.8), and Academic Adjustment (52.2 vs 47.8). While All Other Races scored higher on Negative Cross-Racial Interaction (49.7 vs 55.9).
Wake Forest freshman class in 2017 scored differently by financial concern on six constructs. Compared to Wake freshmen with financial concern, those with no financial concern scored higher on Sense of Belonging (55.6 vs 54.2) and Academic Adjustment (51.9 vs 50.1), and lower on Negative Cross-Racial Interaction (50.8 vs 52.1) and Academic Disengagement (46.7 vs 48.8). Wake freshmen with financial concern scored higher on Faculty Interaction: Contact and Communication (53.4 vs 51.9) and Science Identity (49.2 vs 47.1).
Individual Survey Items of Note
Although less reliable than constructs, individual questions may provide a closer look at notable differences across groups. The following links report by sub-groups those questions where the differences in percent responding between the groups exceed the 95% confidence interval.
- WFU YFCY 2017 compared to Private Universities YFCY 2017
- WFU YFCY 2017 compared to WFU YFCY 2015
- WFU YFCY 2017 by Gender
In addition to the HERI questions, Wake asked first-year students a series of custom questions. Compared to the 2015 YFCY, more 2017 Wake first-years indicated talking to their peers about intellectual topics outside of class, while fewer strongly disagreed that they were “satisfied with the social atmosphere at Wake Forest.”