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Orientation ’98 Survey Findings Released in Report

By Erik Snowberg

In an effort to get feedback about how changes in freshmen orientations during the past few years are affecting student life, Associate Dean of Students Alberta G. Lipson released a report summarizing the experiences of the Class of 2002 during Orientation ’98.

The report was based on the 1998 Orientation Survey given to freshmen on Registration Day. The 1998 Orientation Survey Report details the attendance patterns and attitudes of incoming freshmen toward the different Orientation activities. The report found that there was no net change in the participation of freshmen in rush and the academic part of Orientation was improved by changes to its structure.

The survey was completed by 75 percent of freshmen, compared to a 54 percent response rate in 1997. The report compared the data from the 1998 survey to previous surveys wherever possible.

Focus on Residence Decision

A substantial part of the survey dealt with the process of residence selection. The report found that there was very little change in the level of participation in rush or the number of visits freshmen made to fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups. At the same time, freshmen indicated that they had more information about residences this year than last year.

In 1998, 87 percent of freshmen reported that they visited FSILGs and 66 percent indicated that they gave serious consideration to living in a FSILG. These figures were 90 percent and 64 percent in 1997, respectively. There was also a slight increase in the number of men who participated in rush. The figures for visiting and considering residence halls showed a similar trend.

In both 1997 and 1998, two-thirds of the students who participated in rush received a bid from their favored FSILG. In 1998, the number of students who received their first choices in the residence lottery increased to 86 percent from 71 percent in 1997. “It is possible the Residence Midway gave more visibility to smaller residence halls which may have been overlooked in the past in favor of larger, more popular residences,” the report said.

Frosh more informed this year

The survey also attempted to ascertain the amount of time and information students had to make a residence decision. The percentage of freshmen who replied that they had a “sufficient” or “very sufficient” amount of time rose from 42 percent in 1997 to 63 percent in 1998.

Freshmen also felt that they had more information than indicated in previous years. The percentage of freshmen who indicated that they had “sufficient” or “very sufficient” information rose from 57 percent to 60 percent. At the same time the number of freshman who labeled their residence decision “difficult” or “very difficult” rose from 35 percent to 42 percent.

Both men and women indicated an increased difficulty in making an appropriate housing decision. Male freshmen generally had a more difficult decision. Men who chose to live in FSILGs showed the greatest increase. The report suggested that the housing decision might be harder for men since “men have a wider array of choices which can cause considerable confusion.”

The report also said that “having all freshmen live on campus in 2001 should greatly ameliorate [confusion] since freshman men will only have to choose among ten residence halls, rather than ten residence halls plus thirty-four FSILGs.”

Men who chose to live in an FSILG also indicated the highest level of satisfaction with their choices; 76 percent of men who chose to live in an FSILG indicated they were “very satisfied” with their housing decision, compared to 61 percent in residence halls. The report said these results were consistent with a pattern of increased satisfaction with FSILGs seen in other surveys, including the 1994 and 1998 senior surveys. These surveys indicated that features such as communal dining, good social life, close friendships, a sense of community, supportive upperclass students, alumni whom students considered friends or mentors, and intellectual stimulation were more commonly found in FSILGs than residence halls.

Academic Orientation changes

A slightly higher percentage of freshmen indicated that they had sufficient time and information to make an informed decision about which classes to take in the fall. In 1998, 73 percent of freshmen said they had a “sufficient” or “very sufficient” amount of time to make academic decisions as compared to 62 percent in 1997.

The report suggested that several changes might have accounted for this difference. The Freshman Handbook was mailed in May rather than June this year. Freshmen also had opportunities to discuss academic issues with their orientation leaders. The level of participation in the Academic Expo also increased, from 62 percent during R/O ’92 to 89 percent during Orientation ’98.

Overall, the number of freshmen who indicated they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with orientation increased from 58 percent in 1997 to 63 percent in 1998. The largest increase in satisfaction was among men who chose to live in residence halls, where the percent who indicated they were satisfied jumped from 43 percent in 1997 to 66 percent in 1998. The greatest decline was among men who chose to live in FSILGs were the percentage declined from 66 percent to 57 percent.