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Survey of College Students' Attitudes
<H_NET_DIR@APSU01.APSU.EDU> Subject: EH.T: Attitudes of US College Students, 1996 ================= EH.TEACH POSTING ================= College students may be more patriotic than you think, but many think the good old days were better, Converse survey shows NORTH READING, Mass.--(Press Release)--Oct. 7, 1996--While they overwhelmingly say they are "proud to be Americans," many of today's college students think the country is worse off today than when their parents were in college, according to a national college survey by Converse, the athletic and fashion footwear manufacturer. Almost half of the college students responding to the Converse survey (49%) said they believe that America is probably not as good a place to live as when their parents were college students. Nearly one in three students said they are "pessimistic" about their future, either due to concern over the job market or the country's future. Most students (over 80%) said they intend to vote in the November elections and, according to the Converse survey, favor Bill Clinton over Republican Bob Dole by a margin of 47.7% to 33.9%. Ross Perot is favored by 8% of students. Among pubic issues that will be important in determining their vote, students responding in the Converse survey sited education (47.7% of students), followed by "the economy" (44.5%). Other issues frequently cited by 20% to 25% of the students were reducing the deficit, crime, the environment, and healthcare and welfare reform. Minority and gay rights issues are identified by less than 10% as important concerns. Only 17% of college men cite abortion rights as a key issue versus 27% of women. Women rank abortion rights third on their list of election year issues behind education and the economy, while men see it as ninth on their priority list of election issues. Students say they would support sending U.S. troops overseas only when "American interests are at stake" (45%). Only 32.1% would favor using troops "to foster democracy or for humanitarian reasons," and 8.6% said troops should never be sent overseas for humanitarian reasons. Asked if they are "proud to be an American," 93% of the students randomly selected at 25 campuses across the country said "yes." Nearly 40% of the nearly 1,200 students surveyed described themselves as "extremely" or "very" patriotic. Only 12% said they are "not especially patriotic." The vast majority (74%) said they are at least equally patriotic as their parents. About 68% of the students say they are optimistic about the future, but a large proportion (32.2%) say they are pessimistic about what the future holds. Asked if they believe the U.S. is a better place to live then when their parents were college students, a slim majority (51.4%) said "yes," while 48.6% said "no." (The response was consistent for both genders.) Asked who they most admire in the world, students most often cited their parents. Almost one-fifth of students cited their father (18.4%) as the person they most admire, while 11.2% cited their mother. Another 11.3% cited both parents. Key results of the "Converse College Report `96: Students Take a Stand on America" are as follows: -- Patriotism is alive and well, in the professed views of college students interviewed. Of those surveyed, 39.5% described themselves as "extremely or very patriotic," only 12% said they were "not especially patriotic." -- Comparing their degree of patriotism to their parents, the vast majority of students (74%) said they were more patriotic or equally patriotic as their parents. Only 16% said they were less patriotic than their parents. -- They professed patriotism was especially strong when students were asked if they are "proud to be an American." Over 93% answered affirmatively (both men and women students were equally strong in that response). -- Ninety-three percent said they know the Pledge of Allegiance by heart. -- Strong degrees of patriotism of college students doesn't affect their view on travel, however. Asked where they would prefer to travel on vacation, 65% said Europe. -- While some Americans object to having the flag depicted on clothing or commercial goods, the students indicated that this is not an issue of patriotism. Of those responding to the question, over 80% said "it's OK to use a likeness of the flag on clothing as a fashion statement." -- Students were asked how they felt about the refusal of a professional basketball player to stand for the national anthem. Most students said they were irritated by the action (52.8%), while 32% said the incident did not irritate them. (Another 15% had no opinion.) -- Asked why they are interested in the Olympics, students by and large cited the fact that they are "sports enthusiasts" or that they "want to see how the United States does." There's a difference in how men and women students view this, however. Men tend to cite their interest in sports as a primary reason for watching (75%), while women cite their interest in sports (52%) plus an interest in seeing how the U.S. athletes do at the games. -- Students say they intend to vote in this fall's elections (84% said they will), with Bill Clinton emerging as the candidate of choice over Bob Dole, 47.7% to 33.9%. In a distant third was Ross Perot with 8%, while 10% professed a preference for other candidates. -- Of public issues that will be most important in determining their vote, students surveyed said education is most important (cited by 47.7% of students), followed by "the economy" in a close second (44.5%). Other issues frequently cited by 20 to 25% of the students were reducing the deficit, crime, the environment, and healthcare and welfare reform. -- There's a marked difference in the perception of election issues between men and women students. Women cite education as the most important issue (53.3%), followed by the economy (38.1%) and then by abortion rights (27%). Men cite the economy first (44.5%), then education (47.7%) and then reducing the deficit (24.8%). For men, abortion rights is well down on the list of concerns, ranking ninth in importance and cited by 17.3%. -- Students say some other issues are of lesser concern, including minority rights (cited by only 8.4%, gun control (6.7%), AIDS cure (6.3%), immigration (5.6%) and gay rights (3.2%). -- Students say they would support sending U.S.troops overseas only when "American interests are at stake" (45%). Only 32.1% would favor using troops "to foster democracy or for humanitarian reasons," and 8.6% said troops should never be sent overseas for humanitarian reasons. -- Students exude optimism about the future. Asked if they are optimistic or pessimistic about the future, 67.8% say they are optimistic, and 32.2% say they are pessimistic. -- The optimism is tempered, however, by their view of the United States as a place to live. Asked if they believe the United States is a better place to live than when their parents were college students, a slim majority (51.4%) said "yes," while 48.6% said "no." (The response was consistent for both genders.) -- The optimists among students said they were optimistic because "job prospects look good for me" (51%). Others said their optimism is based on the view that "the future of the country looks good" (25%). (Among women, 51.2% said their job prospects look good.) -- The pessimists were asked about the most important reason for their pessimism. About 40% said "fear for the future of the country" was their chief concern. About 28% cited the "lack of integrity in U.S. politics" and slightly lesser numbers said "job prospects look bad for me" (23%). -- Comparing themselves to their parents, most students said they are about equally optimistic as their parents (55%), while 26% said they are "more optimistic" about the future than their parents. Only 19% said they are less optimistic. "The Converse College Report 1996: Students Take a Stand on America," was conducted by Attitude Research Specialists of Wheaton, Ill., for Converse, of North Reading, Mass., during two weeks in May 1996. 1,195 students on 25 college campuses were surveyed with a margin or error of +/-3% at a level of confidence of 95%. CONTACT: Converse Inc. Ellen Pulda, 508/664-7522 ----------------------------------- ============ FOOTER TO EH.TEACH POSTING ============ For information, send the message "info EH.TEACH" to firstname.lastname@example.org. >