Book by Jennifer R. Keup & Ellen B. Stolzenberg
Review by Peggy Itschner
School of Christian Studies advisor
Howard Payne University—Corpus Christi campus
Corpus Christi, Texas
Dawn walked into her academic advisor’s office, unsure if she could continue her college education after a rough freshman year. Dawn had experienced personal and academic difficulties during her transition to college; she was overwhelmed with her new responsibilities and the environment. She was ready to give up on her education. Dawn wanted her advisor to provide the “right” answers and help solve her problems. Could her sophomore year be better? Could the problems she experienced during her first year be resolved?
The 2003 Your First College Year Survey (YFCY) purported to help the reader understand students’ first-year experiences and assist students such as Dawn. The YFCY Survey studied the first-year college student from a holistic perspective, as it addressed students’ academic and personal experiences. To achieve maximum usefulness, the YFCY Survey, given at the end of the first year of college, followed up the results of The Cooperative Institutional Research Program Freshman Survey (CIRP), administered at college entry. Although useful for institutions who only participated in the YFCY Survey, a comparative longitudinal analysis was possible for institutions that participated in both surveys; it allowed these schools to see changes from college entry to the end of the first year.
The YFCY Survey attempted to provide a concise picture of the first-year experience. Descriptive analyses were provided regarding student satisfaction with a variety of institutional variables, academic experiences, personal issues, and religious or spiritual matters. Possible explanations for the results were found. Subgroup comparisons, such as gender and residential versus commuter, demonstrated how readers might utilize the data to assess needs at their specific campuses.
Obviously, the YFCY Survey is most germane to the practice of freshmen advisors; however, advisors of other student populations may utilize the information to create a more holistic picture of their students. Freshman advisors would do well to keep this resource nearby and refer to it as they seek to understand first-year students and provide counsel. The variety of experiences addressed within this survey makes it valuable. In addition, the reader learns that campus subgroup membership may have a large impact on how a student experiences college. Data revealed that there are significant differences between men and women on a large number of factors; likewise there are differences between residential and commuter students. Freshman advisors should study the subgroups listed so that they may better assist similar student groups at their institutions.
Strengths of this resource include the usefulness of the information, longitudinal analyses, and the large sample (136 institutions of varying types with 29,197 students surveyed nationwide). However if the reader desires the entertainment and reader-friendliness of Richard Light’s Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds, then he or she may find The 2003 Your First College Year Survey lacking since it reads more like a research project with detailed tables and descriptions of quantitative data results. The final chapter gives an adequate summary of the research and could be referred to if the reader does not have time to study the project. I recommend this resource to all freshman advisors and plan to refer to it time and again.
Light, R. J. (2001). Making the Most of College. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
The 2003 Your First College Year (YFCY) Survey: Exploring the Academic and Personal Experiences of First-Year Students. (2004). Book by Jennifer R. Keup & Ellen B. Stolzenberg. Review by Peggy Itschner. Columbia, SC: The National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience. 94 pp. Price $30.00. ISBN # 1-889271-48-9