Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP)
"Developing a Meaningful Philosophy of Life" vs. "Being Well Off Financially":
For those of you who are interested in changes in the zeitgeist from the 1970s to today (which may be the result of economic changes)…. The graph at the link below shows the contrast between percent of entering Freshmen on the Cooperative Institutional Research Program’s (CIRP) Freshman Survey who say it is “Very Important” or “Essential” that they “Develop a meaningful philosophy of life” vs. the percent saying it is “Very Important “ or “Essential” that they “Be very well off financially”. The graph shows that both for ALL freshmen (at ALL colleges administering the survey) as well as for SMC freshmen “being well off financially” is now much more important than “developing a meaningful philosophy of life” which the author of this survey, Alexander “Sandy” Astin, characterized as a contrast between “materialism” and “altruism”. The importance of these values reversed both nationally and at SMC around 1978 and 1979 and the gap between them has widened (with the recession) in 2010. Also of interest is that compared with national statistics a greater percentage of SMC freshmen over the years appear to value “developing a meaningful philosophy of life”. Comparing freshman ratings to matched senior ratings on these two questions shows small but statistically significant increases for SMC students and students at other 4-Year Catholic colleges in the importance of developing a meaningful philosophy of life, and smaller but statistically significant declines in the importance of being well of financially.