Figuring the freshman puzzle

Kiera Manion-Fischer

Survey says politics and finances at the forefront of concerns


Credit: John Proppe

Today’s freshmen are more interested in politics and concerned about paying for higher education than ever before.

According to a recent survey from the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, more freshmen are discussing politics and defining themselves as liberal or conservative, as opposed to middle-of-the-road.

In addition, two out of three freshmen said they were concerned about paying for college.

The survey, which was compiled from more than 270,000 students’ responses at about 400 U.S. universities, also reported fewer freshmen are going to their first-choice schools because of financial concerns.

Although politics ranked high in the survey, political attitudes varied among Kent State students.

Freshman pre-nursing major Miranda Monroe said she’s not really interested in politics and described herself as politically neutral because she doesn’t think one leader can solve the world’s problems.

Amanda Hinchee, freshman fine arts major, doesn’t pay much attention to the news. She said some of her friends are really into politics, but others don’t care at all.

Freshman communications major Bethany Motrunecs said she’s not really into politics, but she would call herself a conservative.

In contrast, freshman exploratory major Brieanna Catheline said she is very interested.

She described herself as a conservative Democrat.

“I’m pro-life, but I believe that women do have rights,” she explained.

Josh Goran, freshman visual communication design major, said he is also interested in politics.

“I wish it would interest more people,” Goran said. “It seems like a lot of people our age are really passive about what’s going on, not just politically but socially and environmentally.”

Goran said he wants to avoid giving giving himself a political label.

A look at the American Freshman:

• The majority support gay-marriage rights.

• Fewer are attending their first-choice college or university.

• Sixty-one percent took an advanced placement class in high school.

• Two-thirds said helping others is a “very important” or “essential” personal goal.

– The American Freshman National Norms for Fall 2006

“I’m non-violent and I don’t eat meat,” he said. “So most peoplle would put me into a liberal category.”

When it comes to financing higher education, some students said increasing costs are a problem.

Goran said he was concerned with finances to a point.

“I’m not in a very desparate situation, he explained. “My parents are paying for everything, and I have scholarships.”

Even though her father is paying for school, Catheline said the cost of her education is a concern.

“College sucks money out of your pocket over and over again,” she said.

Motrunecs said she is “definitely” concerned with the cost of her education.

“I’m paying for it all myself, my parents aren’t helping,’ she said.

Monroe said finances played a big role in her decision to come to Kent State. She said she originally wanted to go out of state to Purdue or Pittsburgh but was discouraged by their costs.

Hinchee said her main issue with paying for school is its cost if she exceeds four years.

Since she wants to change from a fine arts major to interior design, which is a four year program, she said she’ll need to figure out a way to pay for the extra year by herself.

Although Kent State wasn’t a first-choice school for some students, it does have its benefits.

“Kent is a good distance away from my parents,” Monroe said. “(Being here) gives me my independence.”

Contact news corespondent Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].