Below is a summary of the 2015 Your First College Year survey. Wake Forest University compared favorable to the other 46 administering institutions in nearly every construct area. Wake Forest first-year students trended positively in areas that measure a person’s interest and understanding of political and social issues facing the community, nation, and world.
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-first-year 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 first-year students in 2013 and was administered again in 2014 and 2015.
YFCY was distributed online by the Office of Institutional Research in March 2015 to all Wake Forest first-year students. A total of 232 students submitted responses, representing 18% of the first-year class. The respondents were fairly representative of the class, with more survey respondents reporting Asian and fewer reporting White than in the entire cohort. Women were overrepresented at 58% of respondents compared to 53% of the first-year class.
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 a more reliable, cumulative measure. These construct scores, which provide a way of looking at overall trends among survey responses, have a population mean of 50 across all administering institutions and a standard deviation of 10.
Although Wake Forest did not score more than two points below the national average on any construct, scoring four points above the national average on Negative Cross-Racial Interactions is a concern. Constructs in which WFU Scored Above National Average (WFU Average Score):
- Social Agency (55.8)
- Pluralistic Orientation (54.6)
- Positive Cross-Racial Interaction (54.3)
- Negative Cross-Racial Interaction (54.2)
- Habits of Mind (53.1)
- Faculty Interaction: Contact and Communication (52.7)
WFU’s most positive construct scores movement from 2014 were Social Agency (54.1 vs. 55.8) and Civic Awareness (50.9 vs. 52.4). However, some construct scores trended negatively as scores increased in Negative Cross-Racial Interaction (51.8 vs. 54.2) and Academic Disengagement (47.8 vs. 51.0) as well as a two point decrease in Overall Satisfaction (50.8 vs. 48.8).
When comparing change within individuals responding to both TFS in the fall of 2014 and YFCY in the spring of 2015, only Social Agency showed significant positive change at WFU (51.6 to 54.6), mirroring changes seen at other universities. However, the construct of Social Self-Concept, Private Institutions trended positively from the beginning of first-year to the end, whereas WFU dropped (52.4 to 49.2).
When comparing construct scores by race, All Other Races positively outscored White Only in Social Agency, Pluralistic Orientation, Positive Cross-Racial Interaction, Civic Engagement, and Social Self Concept. However, they also scored higher in Academic Disengagement and scored 8.5 points higher in Negative Cross-Racial Interaction. All Other Races scored lower in Academic Self-Concept and Sense of Belonging.
When comparing financial concern, students who indicated having “Some or Major Financial Concerns” scored higher than respondents with “No Financial Concerns” in Pluralistic Orientation and Faculty Interaction: Contact and Communication. No Financial Concern students scored lower in Negative Cross-Racial Interaction and Social Self-Concept.
Individual Items of Note
Although less reliable than constructs, individual item responses for the cohort entering in fall 2014 showed that they put more importance of future individual accomplishments at the end (YFCY) of their first year compared to the start (TFS):
Items of Positive Movement at Wake
- More students frequently studied with other students
- More students commented that influencing the political structure is very important
- More students indicated that writing original works is very important
Items of Negative Movement at Wake
- More students frequently drank beer, wine or liquor, and partied more often
- More students occasionally smoked cigarettes
- Fewer students attended religious services
Individual items showed a mixture of movement when comparing Wake’s end-of-first-year responses in 2014 and 2015:
Items of Positive Movement at Wake
- Frequent beer drinking dropped by 11.5 percentage points
- More students reported becoming a community leader is essential
- Academic support programs have become more popular
Items of Negative Movement at Wake
- Volunteer work has dropped
- More respondents “strongly agree” there is a lot of racial tension on this campus
- Fewer respondents discussed course content with students outside of class
In general, first-year students at Wake compared favorably to Private Universities on individual items concerning active involvement, course content, and faculty interaction:
More Wake First-Year respondents compared to Private University reported in YFCY to
- Strongly agree that this institution has contributed to a number of individual skills and knowledge such as Intellectual and practical skills, Knowledge of a particular field or discipline, Knowledge of people from different races/cultures, Understanding of the problems facing the community, and Critical thinking skills
- Be very satisfied with the laboratory facilities and equipment
- Have taken a course or FYS designed to connect faculty and students in focused academic inquiry or designed to help students adjust to college-level academics
- Be eligible to vote
- Strongly agree that there is a lot of racial tension on this campus
- (Strongly) Agree that they have felt discriminated against at this institution because of race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation
Fewer Wake First-Year respondents compared to Private University reported in YFCY to
- Be satisfied with the racial/ethnic diversity of the student body
- Have frequently gone home for the weekend
- Have frequently texted during class
Women respondents at Wake Forest felt more encouragement and more involved in classes as compared to Male respondents. Men tended to think very highly of themselves compared to peers, with more male respondents rating themselves in the “Highest 10%” in Competitiveness, Creativity, Physical Health, Intellectual Self- Confidence, and Social Self-Confidence.
More respondents in 2015 “Strongly Agreed” to
- Really identify with the values of the University
- Feel a sense of connection to his or her residence hall
Fewer respondents in 2015
- Strongly agreed with being a fan of Wake Forest Sports
- Frequently attended a WFU sporting event