Research group recently completed its annual survey...

A UCLA

February 10, 1994

A UCLA research group recently completed its annual survey of college freshmen, and came up with some intriguing trends.

The grade point average of high school graduates has hit an all-time high. Twenty-seven percent received an average grade of A-minus or higher, opposed to the 25.8 percent last year. Similarly, the percentage of students whose average was C-plus or lower dropped to 16 percent.

Ironically, freshmen are studying less. For the fourth straight year, the percent of students who spent six hours a week studying has declined. Only 33.7 percent spend that much time on academics, versus 37.1 percent in 1991 and 43.7 percent in 1981. It appears that high school graduates are doing better academically every year, with less and less effort.

The math and science skills of students, though, continues to decline. The number of freshmen who believe they need remedial work in science has peaked at 11.8 percent, while freshmen who believe they need help in mathematics has steadied at a record high 28.7 percent.

Two trends continue in the choice of majors. The percentage of students interested in business has declined for the sixth straight year to 16.1 percent. Meanwhile, students majoring in health-related fields have continued on a six-year upward trend, rising to 15.8 percent, half of whom are interested in medicine.

The most dramatic increase is in the number of freshmen who intend to get graduate degrees. That number rose to 64.7 percent, almost 10 percentage points higher than last year, and 15 percentage points higher than 20 years ago. Women show the most interest at 66.3 percent.

The research group attributes the higher interest in graduate school to the economy. Students who fear they will not find a job are more likely to believe that graduate school is their best guarantee for financial security. As a result, graduate schools are likely to become more competitive in the years ahead -- unless a recovering economy begins to draw more young graduates into the labor force.

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