University Surveys

Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE, "Bessie") - Fall 2005

Overview of Western's Fall 2005 BCSSE Results

Faculty in all Fall 2005 FYE courses were asked to have their students complete the BCSSE instrument during the first week of their FYE class. The response rate was an extremely high 86.9% of all new incoming freshmen. The instrument will be used in the future during summer orientation sessions so that results can be tabulated early during fall semesters when the they will be most useful in efforts to promote student success.

WIU Freshmen Characteristics

The transition from high school to college is a challenge for all new students, in part because of the very different environments they have experienced.

  • 52% of incoming freshmen indicated that at least one of their parents had a 4-year college degree or higher.
  • 87% of incoming freshmen attended public high schools and 12% attended private, religiously affiliated private high schools.

WIU Freshmen High School Coursework

Completing a rigorous, challenging curriculum has been linked to higher first-year college grades and improved chances for college graduation.

  • With the exception of foreign languages and fine/performing arts, more than 2/3 of Western's Fall 2005 freshman class completed a rigorous high school curriculum.

graph of high school curriculum completing of incoming freshmen

WIU Freshmen High School Academic Involvement

Students start colleges with habits they developed in high school or even before. Thus, these early habits are an indicator of what can be expected in college.

  • The incoming Fall 2005 freshmen class demonstrated high levels of academic involvement in high school, a trait which should serve them well in their college endeavors.
  • However, 47% admitted to coming to class without completing reading or assignments, clearly an issue which will prove detrimental with the increased rigor of the collegiate curriculum.

graph of high school academic involvement of incoming freshmen

WIU Freshmen High School Extracurricular Involvement

Participation in extracurricular activities is high school is linked with being engaged in other productive activities and increases the changes that students will be satisfied and stay in school.

  • 75% of incoming freshmen were involved with ≥ 1 extracurricular activity, an outlet which will be important for them to continue in order to achieve a balanced collegiate life.

graph of high school extracurricular involvement of incoming freshmen

WIU Freshmen Sources of Influence

Beyond habits they have already developed, students are influence by a variety of sources which can affect their actions and efforts in college.

  • Family (86%) and friends (74-85%) are the primary source of influence for incoming freshman regarding their expectation for college.

graph of sources of influence for incoming freshmen

WIU Freshmen Time Management

That the more time and energy students spend on task, the more they benefit, is a self-evident proposition. However, striking a balance in their activities is of crucial importance.

  • Incoming freshmen expect to spend about 3 times as much time studying in college than they did in high school, increasing from 1-5 hours/week to 11-15 hours/week.
  • While they still plan on participating in co-curricular activities in college, incoming freshmen realize that the greater academic demands will reduce their time for co-curricular activities by about 1/2, from 11-15 hours/week down to 6-10 hours/week.
  • However, incoming freshmen expect to maintain the same level of relaxation and social activities as they did in high school, about 11-15 hours/week.

WIU Freshmen Expected Difficulties

Students enter college aware that they will face challenges in adjusting to collegiate life, but also with expectations for support. Recognizing where students anticipate difficulties and what they value as important, can help direct college programs designed to smooth the transition.

  • While paying for college is a consideration, 82% of incoming freshmen expect the greatest difficulties they will encounter relate to being able effectively management their time and keeping up with their school work.

graph of expected difficulties of incoming freshmen


Additional BCSSE report findings