PACS post / May 24, 2015

Life on the Farm

Understanding Patterns of Activity over the Course of an Undergraduate Career

While there is a vast literature on the impact of college on a host of later life outcomes, there is surprisingly little research on how students transition and integrate (or not) into undergraduate life and how the structure of their commitments on campus shift over the course of their collegiate careers. Finally, we are also interested in trying to understand where these commitments come from. Do they primarily reflect attitudes and identities that were in place before the student arrived on campus, or more often grow out of on campus experiences and contacts?

We hope to get at these three issues by surveying and interviewing members of Stanford’s Class of 2017 multiple times over the course of their four years on campus. Indeed, to address the last question noted above, we first surveyed the Class in the summer prior to their arrival on campus. Since then we have surveyed them three more times—in December and June of their Freshman year and again at the end of their Sophomore year—and conducted depth interviews with 30 members of the class at the close of their second year on campus. Going forward we plan to interview the same 30 students just prior to graduation and to survey the entire class at the close of their Junior and Senior years at Stanford. This longitudinal design will yield six survey waves and two sets of depth interviews with members of the class.

The data we have collected have already yielded some very interesting, preliminary results, but we are especially excited by the prospect of having time-sensitive data from the class spanning their entire undergraduate careers.