Freshmen are happier than ever to be attending Ball State University, statistically speaking.
More than 70 percent of freshmen ranked Ball State as their first choice for college, a three percent increase from the previous year, according to the fall 2001 Making Achievement Possible survey.
The Freshman Year Experience survey compliments it, reporting that 96 percent of the same group had a "positive" or "very positive" general attitude toward Ball State.
Ball State freshmen are asked to complete surveys upon arriving in August and again at the conclusion of their first academic year, according to the Office of Academic Assessment and Institutional Research.
The MAP survey, collected at the beginning of each fall semester, comprises a diverse list of questions regarding involvement in residence hall activities, campus events, study sessions and supplemental instruction, adjustment to college life and overall satisfaction with the university.
The MAP survey showed a response rate of 80 percent, according to the report.
The spring FYE survey, a follow-up to the MAP information, is designed to describe students' goals and activities and to study behaviors and progress during their first year at Ball State, said Michael McFall, assessment and research coordinator for the Office of Academic Assessment and Institutional Research.
"We not only collect data, but also report it to colleges and departments as well as administrators and advisers," McFall said. "Our findings influence policy-making and other decisions regarding the upcoming freshman classes."
Each student who participates in the surveys receives an individual report and analysis of his or her responses, said Sherry Woosley, senior analyst for the Office of Academic Assessment and Institutional Research.
Many first-year students have misperceptions about the work university-level courses involve, said Alan Hargrave, director of Housing and Residence Life.
By reviewing the detailed analysis of their responses, students can compare levels of campus involvement and behavioral patterns with other freshmen, Woosley said.
"Our hope is that we will affect students early on by providing a list of resources on advising services that can aid in goal setting," she said.
"The surveys can help students recognize the value of having advisers and hall directors who can assist students," Hargrave said.
"We are very pleased with the high participation rate," McFall said. "We believe this is a trend that will continue."
One reason for his prediction is the positive relationship the researchers have with the residence halls, which distribute and promote completion of the forms each semester. The incentives offered to freshmen who complete the surveys increase freshman participation, Woosley said.
The MAP survey offers one semester's books paid-in-full to three randomly selected freshman participants. Other prizes are given to hall floors achieving an 85 percent-or-greater return rate. Three floors are randomly selected for $100 prizes, which can be used for floor activities, Woosley said.
The FYE survey awards $200 cash prizes to five randomly selected individuals each spring, McFall said.
"We work with the resident assistants to develop competitions between halls," Hargrave said. "As long as we continue to do things the way we're doing them now, student participation should remain quite high."