Along with entrance exams and campus tours, new students at freshman orientation are required to complete the Cooperative Institutional Research Program survey, the results of which were released for 2011 yesterday, and showed, among other things, that a majority supported legalizing gay marriage.


Graphic by Arjun Mahanti

Administered by the Higher Education Research Institute — the graduate school of education and information studies at the University of California, Los Angeles — the survey tracks behavioral and educational trends among incoming college freshmen across the nation.

One of the areas that the survey focused on is student opinion on LGTBQ rights. Survey data showed that 71.3 percent of incoming freshmen nationwide believed that gay marriage should be legalized, while 80.7 percent of the University’s incoming freshmen did.

The executive board of the Central Student Government’s LGBT Issues wrote in a statement to The Michigan Daily that it was pleased with the results of the survey regarding the support of gay marriage.

“We now hope to see this level of support reflected on the state and national levels,” the board wrote.

However, the University’s freshmen were less supportive of affirmative action than their national peers. In 2011, 42.1 percent of all freshmen were in favor of preferential treatment in college admissions to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, while at the University, 32.7 percent of freshmen were.

Malinda Matney, a senior research associate at the Division of Student Affairs, wrote in a statement to the Daily that she was not surprised that University students were less supportive of affirmative action than their peers.

“These debates have been ongoing in the state of Michigan media since before these students started kindergarten,” Matney wrote. “They have never known a time in which this was not an issue of active debate.”

The survey also showed that University freshmen claimed to have a higher workload in high school than other freshmen. At the University, 63.1 percent of freshmen said they spent at least six hours studying, whereas only 39.5 percent of freshmen across the country said the same.

The survey also found that 46.4 percent of University freshmen completed five or more Advanced Placement courses in high school, compared to 21.7 percent of all freshmen in the United States.

Though the University’s switch to the Common Application last year has resulted in an increased number of applicants it did not significantly change the percentage of incoming freshmen who considered the University as their first-choice school. In 2010, 68.9 percent of incoming freshmen said the University was their first choice, and in 2011, the percentage dropped to 65.5.

Matney wrote in a separate e-mail interview that the small margin of difference shows Michigan’s continuing popularity.

“What I take from this is that, although a much larger number of students are applying to Michigan, we are also the most desired destination for a rising number of students,” Matney wrote. “(The University) is special in the aspiration of thousands.”

Authors of the study noted that rising tuition costs and a slowly growing economy contributed to a rise in freshmen debt levels across the country. Survey data found that the percentage of all incoming freshmen in the nation in 2011 who needed $10,000 or more in loans to pay for their first year of college more than doubled the percentage in 2001, from 5.6 percent to 13.3 percent.

University freshmen, on the other hand, exhibited the opposite trend. In 2011, 3.4 percent of University freshmen expected to use $10,000 or more in loans, while in 2001, 5.6 percent expected the same.

Matney wrote in the email that the decrease in loans has more to do with an increase in financial aid from the University rather than a change in the financial background of attending students. She cited the University’s commitment to M-PACT, a financial aid program that increases grants and decreases loans for students in the Ann Arbor campus.

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