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Nation's College Freshmen More Liberal, Hardworking Than Years Past: UCLA Report

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Thu, Jan 26, 2012 at 4:45 PM

click to enlarge The youth is starting to change, brah. - THE DAILY TROJAN
The freshman class of 2011 is challenging the "lazy millennial" stereotype that has come to define Generation Y, according to a nationwide survey conducted by UCLA.

"On the academic front, students showed more positive behaviors consistent with academic success than they had in the past," reads a survey summary.

America's freshmen were also found to subscribe much more readily to the gospel of the 99 percent:

"First-year college students' political and social views shifted in a more liberal direction in 2011," says the report.

Call it the Occupy effect. (And Fox News hounds can't blame the nation's left-leaning professors for this one!) Incoming freshmen last fall were much more open to ideas like gay marriage, affirmative action and financial aid for undocumented immigrants than in fall 2009.

In case you're wary of the science behind the reported renaissance, here's how UCLA's CIRP Freshman Survey, "the largest and longest-running survey of American college students," works:

The 2011 Freshman Norms report is based on the responses of 203,967 first-time, full-time students at 270 of the nation's baccalaureate colleges and universities. The data have been statistically adjusted to reflect the responses of the 1.5 million first-time, full-time students entering four-year colleges and universities as first-year students in 2011.

Sounds more or less legit, right? And the changing attitudes/practices/politics among the class of 2011 are damn impressive (unless kids have just started exaggerating more on their survey forms):

More students taking AP courses

The proportion of students who had taken at least one Advanced Placement course rose from 67.9 percent in 2009 to 71.0 percent in 2011. Those who had taken five or more AP courses rose from 18.7 percent in 2009 to 21.7 percent in 2011.

Discussing college-course content outside class

More students indicated that as college students, they expected to discuss course content with their peers outside class, a behavior that has been linked to retention and greater academic gains in college. This figure rose from 46.9 percent in 2010 to 48.8 percent in 2011.

Alcohol consumption at all-time low

The proportion of students who said they drank beer as high school seniors dropped from 38.4 percent in 2010 to 35.4 percent in 2011, while those who said they drank wine and/or liquor dropped from 43.3 percent in 2010 to 41.1 percent in 2011.

More hours spent studying in high school

The proportion of students who reported spending six or more hours a week studying or doing homework as high school seniors rose to 39.5 percent, from 37.3 percent in 2010.

The study's authors attribute much of this newfound willpower to the nation's tightening economy -- which puts pressure on students to nab scholarships, excel in a competitive new workforce and graduate as fast as possible.

What do you think: Does this mark a turnaround point for slacker youth? Are the brain-dead 2000s entering a bright new information age?? Are we finally winning the future??? Bleh. About time.

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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