Forty years ago, when the data series analyzed here began, just three in ten college freshmen had fathers who had a college education. Now, a majority do. Young college students today have higher education goals than their predecessors did a generation ago. The changes have been particularly dramatic for young women, with a fivefold increase in the number who plan to become doctors, and a threefold increase in the number who plan to get a Ph.D.
OBJECTIVES AND IDEOLOGY
Over the past 40 years, college freshmen have changed their views about some objectives that will be essential or very important to them. Their ideological views have changed, too. In recent years, the number who consider themselves far left or liberal has risen slightly, as has the smaller number on the conservative or far right side. Pluralities describe themselves as middle-of-the road.
VIEWS AND VALUES
College students’ views are unformed on many topics, but on some, such as special preferences in hiring and education, they are strongly defined—in opposition. Also, college students favor Barack Obama over John McCain by significant margins.
Note: Sample is of students at four-year colleges. Source: Institute of Politics at Harvard University, April–May 2008.
Illustrations by Otto Steininger.