According to The Chronicle of Higher Education (2005) the overall number of students enrolled at the undergraduate and graduate level is 16, 637,000.

The number of undergraduate students enrolled full-time at two-year institutions is reported at 2,563,000. Part-time students at two-year institutions number 1,821,000.Undergraduate enrollment at four-year institutions for full-time students is reported at 7,305,000 while part-time student enrollment is reported at 1,680,000.

Enrollment of males at the undergraduate level is reported at 1,782, 000 (1,055,000 full-time and 727,000 part-time) in two-year institutions while 4,120,000 (3,421,000 full-time and 699,000 part-time) males are enrolled in four-year institutions.

Enrollment of females at the undergraduate level is reported at 2,692,000 (1,507,000 full-time and 1,095,000 part-time) in two-year institutions while 4,866,000 (3,884,000 full-time and 982,000 part-time) females are enrolled in four-year institutions.

The overall number of students reported as enrolled in graduate programs is 3,308,000 (1,622,000 full-time and 1,646,000 part-time). Male students enrolled in graduate programs number 1, 416, 000 (773,000 full-time and 643,000 part-time). Female students enrolled in graduate programs number 1,852,000 (849,000 full-time and 1,003,000 part-time).



While there is growing concern directed to student diversity it shouldn’t be limited to race, gender, or age related characteristics but include attention to individual differences in intellectual and affective functioning. In order to understand differences in the ways students approach learning, it is important to view students not only as learners but as individuals with a range of abilities, motivations, beliefs regarding competence, habits of thinking, and learning and personality characteristics.

Geisler-Bernstein, et al, (1996) offer the following:

Looking at individual differences in “cognitive” or “learning styles” (Messick 1994;Sternberg 1994; Jonassen & Grabowski 1993), “preferred ways of learning” (Biggs 1993) or “dispositions” (Ennis 1987) reflected in different “approaches” or “orientations” (Entwistle & Ramsden 1983 or “conceptions of learning” (Beaty, et al. 1990) is a valid and        necessary enterprise providing valuable information for those interested in how and why students learn and in counseling students to improve their learning. (p. 89)

While Students should be encouraged to capitalize on their preferred way of learning, they also need to be encouraged not to neglect non-preferred processes.

Sylistic awareness also has developmental implications. Ideally, as students mature, they will devise ways of compensating for weaknesses (for example, low structure individuals can use detailed lists to help them structure activities). Preferably, instructors should assist students in broadening their strategic repertoire. (Geisler-Bernstein, et al, 1996, p. 90)

The results of the comprehensive studies of college freshmen and college student developmental characteristics and developmental influences (Astin, et al 1997; Astin and Astin, et al 1993 & 1997; Sax, et al 1997) reveal a range of interesting considerations including the following:

Academic Engagement of College Freshmen

Thirty-seven percent (37%) reported boredom with class in 1997 compared with 30% in 1987; 35% overslept and missed class or appointment in 1997 compared with 30 % in 1987; and 35 % studied or did homework six or more hours per week in 1997 compared with 45 % in 1987.

The Life Goals of College Freshmen

Seventy- four percent (74 %) indicate that their goal is to be very well off financially as compared with 43% who desire to develop a meaningful philosophy of life.

Political Disengagement:

Fourteen percent (14 %) discuss politics and 26 % are committed to keeping up with politics. On the other hand some 74 % volunteered in social or politically oriented activities.

Health trends:

Fifty-two (52%) to 56 % report drinking wine, liquor or beer; 16 % smoke cigarettes frequently

Role of Gender:

It is reported that 72 % or women are concerned about their ability to pay for college as compared with 60 % of the men. Forty-five percent (45 %) of the women expect to get a job to pay for college as compared with 35 % of the men.

College Student Characteristics and Developmental Influences 

Students change during college in that they become more:

On the other hand students become less:

Environments/Experiences that Enhance Student Development

Post Chapter Self-Assessment Quiz

Here is a short assessment quiz to help direct your focus on the content of this chapter. After reading this chapter the post chapter self-assessment quiz re-focuses your understanding concerning contemporary higher education learners.


______ I am more committed to providing an optimal learning and teaching environment for all students enrolled in courses that I conduct at my institution of higher education.

______ I feel more knowledgeable about important characteristics of student sub-cultures comprising my college or university.

______ I can better explain the instructional implications of important characteristics of student sub-cultures comprising my college or university.

______ I can select or formulate better learning and instruction strategies that correspond with the implications drawn from the characteristics of student sub cultures.

______ I would like to further examine important characteristics of student sub-cultures and implications these have for learning and instruction in higher education.