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Stanford freshmen more diverse than counterparts nationally

STANFORD -- Compared to new students at similar institutions, Stanford's freshmen are more ethnically diverse, express more altruistic goals and report having partied less and studied more in high school, according to a national survey.

The survey, conducted jointly by the American Council on Education and the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles, tallied the responses of 210,739 freshmen entering 431 two- and four-year colleges in the fall of 1991.

Stanford had 1,526 freshmen enroll last fall, of whom 1,422 returned questionnaires. Their responses were compared to students enrolling at other highly selective private universities nationwide. (Percentages are for students answering the individual question.)

On racial background, 57 percent of the Stanford respondents described theirs as white, compared with an average of 74 percent of students at similar universities. Almost 25 percent of the new Stanford students said they frequently spoke a language other than English at home, compared with 16 percent at similar institutions.

Stanford freshmen also differed in their life objectives. Somewhat fewer said it would someday be very important to have administrative responsibility (30 percent, as opposed to 37 percent in the comparison group);to be very well off financially (57 percent, compared with 63 percent); or to own their own business (30 percent, compared with 34 percent).

More said it would be essential or very important to develop a philosophy of life (73 percent, compared with 63 percent at similar universities); to be involved in environmental cleanup (43 percent, compared with 38 percent); and to promote racial understanding (61 percent, compared with 48 percent).

When asked about the activities they had engaged in the previous year, 89 percent of the Stanford freshmen had performed volunteer work (compared with 84 percent at similar institutions).

Not surprisingly, schoolwork was a priority for most Stanford freshmen in high school. Nearly 36 percent said they spent 16 or more hours a week studying or doing homework (compared with 24 percent at similar institutions nationwide), and 81 percent spent six or more hours on homework.

Fifty-two percent of the Stanford freshmen had been elected president of one or more high school organizations, and 23 percent had won an award in a science contest. Eighty-six percent were members of a high school scholastic honor society.

In their off hours, about 25 percent of the Stanford freshmen spent six or more hours per week watching TV in their senior year of high school, compared with 30 percent nationally. Twenty-one percent said they worked six or more hours a week for pay, compared with 31 percent of freshmen at similar institutions.

When it came to high school partying, Stanford freshmen were more low-key than their counterparts at comparable schools: 13 percent said they had attended parties more than six hours a week in their senior year of high school, compared with 26 percent at similar institutions.

Only 1 percent of the Stanford freshmen smoked cigarettes, compared with 6 percent at similar institutions. Forty-two percent said they drank beer in the previous year, compared with 56 percent at comparable schools; and 45 percent said they drank wine or liquor, compared with 59 percent nationally.

When it came to planning for college, 90 percent of the Stanford freshmen said the Farm was their first choice. At comparable institutions, about three-quarters ended up where they initially wanted to be.

Stanford freshmen came from both ends of the economic scale: 14 percent estimated their parental income at less than $30,000; 19 percent at $150,000 or more per year.

Most said they would receive financial aid from a variety of sources, including parents or family (88 percent); savings from summer work (62 percent); Guaranteed Student Loans (22 percent); and assorted grants and scholarships.

Only 3 percent of the Stanford freshmen said they would stop with a bachelor's degree. Earning a master's degree was the goal of 26 percent; 35 percent planned to seek a doctorate, 24 percent a medical degree, and 11 percent a law degree.

Seventy-three percent of the entering Stanford freshmen said they had attended a religious service in the last year (compared with 81 percent at similar institutions nationwide). Twenty-seven percent considered themselves Protestant; 21 percent, Roman Catholic; and 8 percent, Jewish. The rest listed other religions or no preference.

In their political views, the Stanford freshmen were more liberal than their counterparts nationally: 41 percent described themselves as liberal (2 percent higher than the previous year), compared with 32 percent at similar institutions. Sixteen percent said they were conservative, compared with 26 percent at similar institutions.

Eighty-one percent of the Stanford freshmen felt abortion should be legal, compared with 70 percent at similar institutions, while 49 percent agreed with a statement that there was too much concern for criminal rights, compared with 57 percent at similar schools.

When asked how they would rate themselves in a long list of categories, the Stanford freshmen brimmed with self-confidence. More than 95 percent rated themselves above average or in the top 10 percent for academic ability and the drive to achieve.

They were apparently less confident about their artistic ability - 40 percent rated themselves above average or in the top 10 percent.



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