REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Dec. 18, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Course Hero, an online learning platform that empowers millions of students and educators to succeed, today announced findings from a survey that explores the realities of first-semester college life and how those differ from high school expectations. The data, acquired from an independent survey of over 1,000 high school seniors and first-year college students, reveals important insights about money, exercise, stress, alcohol consumption, time management, and more. (Read more about the survey on Course Hero's blog.)
"One of our core values at Course Hero is picturing success and plotting a path to achieve it — but that can be difficult if you don't know what to expect," said founder and CEO Andrew Grauer. "By comparing expectations to first-year student realities, we help students, parents, and educators anticipate what's ahead and what resources students need to thrive in their first semester."
High school students' expectations about their biggest collegiate obstacles are on target
High school seniors anticipate that their top three challenges will be time management, paying college tuition, and social distractions. College freshmen agree that these are the "big three" obstacles to success in the first semester.
Surprises include borrowing more money from relatives, getting fewer scholarships
When it comes to affording college, some student expectations are realistic: Overall, more than half of all respondents (56 percent of college freshmen, and 55 percent of high school seniors) report having to, or expecting to, take on student loan debt.
Other expectations are less accurate. Only 67 percent of college freshmen receive scholarships, versus the 81 percent of high schoolers who expect to. And while only 18 percent of high school students expect to borrow $1,000 or more from relatives, 34 percent of first-year college students end up doing just that.
Prioritizing mental health is harder than expected
High school seniors considerably overestimate how much they'll focus on their mental health in college. Eighty-four percent anticipate focusing on it, while only about two-thirds (67 percent) of college freshman report that they do so — and over one-third (37 percent) cite making time for mental and physical health as a big source of stress.
For those college freshmen who do make time for mental health (and the high school seniors who anticipate making time), exercise is the activity of choice, as cited by 63 percent of college freshmen and 70 percent of high school seniors. Nearly half (47 percent) of college students exercise two to three times per week, 25 percent exercise four to five times per week, and 10 percent six to seven times per week.
Creative pursuits follow as the second activity for mental health focus, reported by 52 percent of college freshmen and 43 percent of high school seniors.
High school seniors underestimate study time but not the difficulty of coursework
High school seniors have a relatively accurate perception of how hard the workload will be in college — yet it remains a big source of stress for them. Forty-seven percent of high school seniors expect the coursework to be "somewhat more challenging" compared to high school — and, equally, 47 percent of college freshmen report the same. Twenty-five percent of college freshman report it to be "much more challenging," while 27 percent of high school seniors anticipate this.
High school seniors also have a realistic expectation about how stressful their studies will be. Half of college freshmen report "overwhelming course load / time management" as a leading source of stress; 47 percent of high school seniors anticipate this being the case. However, maintaining a high GPA is stressful for 65 percent of college freshmen, while only 52 percent of high school seniors expect it to be.
There is also less overlap between expectations and reality when it comes to studying time — more often than not, high school seniors underestimate the amount of time they'll spend hitting the books. Thirty-five percent of high school seniors expect to study four to six hours per week, but 42 percent of college freshmen report this as their reality. Similarly, more than one-quarter (27 percent) of high school seniors anticipate studying for more than six hours a week, while 32 percent of college freshmen report this figure.
Dating is harder than expected
Three-quarters of high school students expect to be dating in college, but only 52 percent of first-year college students report doing so. The biggest gap is between those who expect to date non-exclusively (39 percent of high school students) versus those who actually do (14 percent of first-year college students).
They intend to come home to visit — and they really do
Parents who are feeling loss at the prospect of students going away to college can take heart — they really do come home to visit. Nearly 90 percent of high school students expect to return home to visit parents/relatives, and 86 percent of college freshmen do. In fact, they may visit even more than expected: 33 percent of college first years have visited home more than four times in the semester, versus 26 percent of high school students who expect to visit at that frequency.
The online survey, conducted by Survata between November 22, 2017, and December 06, 2017, polled 1,002 people who self-identified as a high school senior or college freshman: 354 high school seniors (in 12th grade) expecting to go to a four-year institution; 169 high school seniors expecting to go to community college, with plans to transfer to a four-year university; 153 college freshmen at community college, with plans to transfer to a four-year university; and 326 college freshmen at a four-year college (first-year undergraduates).
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