CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
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College Students Expect Service, Study Abroad, and Extracurricular Clubs but Report Stress and Low Emotional Health

Trends in Expectations for College (CIRP Freshman Survey)

Using data from the College Freshman Survey of the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI), John  H. Pryor reports that incoming college freshmen are increasingly likely to expect that they will participate directly in extracurricular activities, community service, and foreign study–all experiences that have civic purposes and benefits.

But the same study also shows that incoming college students report increased levels of stress and historically low levels of emotional health. A record-high proportion of incoming freshmen (73%) say that the “chief benefit of a college education is that it increases earning power.”

For institutions of higher education, these trends raise several questions: Are we meeting the expectations of our incoming students? Can meaningful service activities be antidotes to stress and poor psychosocial well-being? Can they enhance students’ economic opportunities? Or do some students report being “overwhelmed” because they are pursuing civic experiences as well as academic work and jobs?

– Peter Levine

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