New student survey highlights first-year student experiences

January 31, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — From first impressions to their feelings of preparedness and connectedness as first-year Penn State students, the New Student PULSE Survey administered in fall 2017 by the Student Affairs Research and Assessment office asked first-year students to reflect on their experiences at Penn State during their first semester.

A sample of 2,000 full-time, first-time, degree-seeking undergraduate students at the University Park campus was invited to participate. Questions focused on first impressions of the University, sense of preparedness in relation to academics and social experiences, feelings of belonging within the Penn State community, and familiarity with campus resources and academic requirements.

First impressions

Of the 414 students who responded to the survey invitation, 91.6 percent said if they were starting college again, they would “probably” or “definitely” choose to attend Penn State. Students also responded positively that they felt satisfied with their experiences at Penn State, with 79.7 percent indicating either “somewhat” or “very” satisfied.

Social and academic preparedness

Academically, 84.9 percent of students either “somewhat agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they were prepared for their first semester at Penn State. Results showed that an overwhelming 92.5 percent had set academic goals.

A majority of students also agreed to being aware of academic support resources such as Penn State Learning, library services and other resources available on campus. A little over half of students (55.0 percent) agreed to being “somewhat” or “strongly” aware of available engaged scholarship opportunities such as study abroad, internships and research.

Sense of belonging

In a slight increase from the 2015 survey, 61.9 percent of students reported having developed friendships with fellow students. Over half of the students (67.4 percent) reported feeling a strong sense of belonging at the University (compared to 71.7 percent in 2015), and 77.5 percent felt strongly that Penn State is a welcoming community. Participating in events such as Welcome Week, NSO, LEAP and residence hall programming contributed to students’ positive feelings of belonging on campus.

The responses reported by students showed overwhelmingly that engagement in University-sponsored programming and familiarity with available academic and extracurricular resources have an impact on student learning and socialization while at Penn State.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 31, 2018