Higher Expectations for Higher Education?
Education is a crucial part of human development and a key component of success. As people grow up, the level of education rises and people often think that the higher the level of education is, the greater it will be. Dana Krieg’s article “High Expectations for Higher Education? Perceptions of College and Experiences of Stress Prior to and Through the College Career” is about how students’ perception of college life changes on three stages: pre-matriculation, first year, and senior year. She thinks that “violated expectations of college may increase the stress experienced across the college career” (Krieg, 2013). Krieg makes good point and all examples and arguments she provides makes her research remarkable and with a great evidence basis.
This study compares expectations on four levels: academics, social, family, college. College is a very responsible transition into adult life, and if it goes wrong, it may result in various disorders, like stress, depression, social withdrawal etc. It all leads to early drop out. Results of Federal Analysis in 1997 showed that 46% of college students drop out before earning a degree (Krieg, 2013). The First Year Myth is associated with a problem that most of the college students have too optimistic and idealistic expectations, which cannot be fulfilled. Hovewer, now it does not have such a dramatic impact on students’ expectations because there are many sources available about college in general and college experience.
Krieg (2013) makes the point that “Academic preparation, ability, and adjustment are central issues in evaluating college success, stress, and the likelihood of early withdrawal”. The best way to be prepared to college life is to separate and individualize from family and relatives. Such thought may sound crazy, but in fact, it is a critical component of college adjustment. Students may be financially dependent on parents, but all personal needs are on themselves, and they should not rely on family in this aspect (Krieg, 2013).
In 2000, Jackson held a study where he asked students open-ended questions about their expectations, and developed four categories based on their answers – fearful, optimistic, prepared, and complacent, with students from “prepared” category being the most successful. (Krieg, 2013). Krieg’s study is different because it has different aspects of college life considered and compared between first-year and senior students.
Research methods that Krieg used were Incoming Student Expectations Questionnaire (ISEQ) and Student Experiences Questionnaire (SEQ) and around 200 students took part in this research (Krieg, 2013). Pre-matriculation students completed ISEQ, while first-year and senior students completed SEQ. For SEQ, Krieg changed ISEQ questions so that they reflect students’ experience. “For example, "the workload will be difficult for me to handle" became "the workload is difficult for me to handle"” (Krieg, 2013).
The hypothesis of the research is clear. First-year students’ expectations will vary, which means that some will find college experience greater than anticipated. On the flipside, some will find college experience worse than expected. Author expected that the higher is violation of expectations the higher is the stress. First-year students were expected to be more involved with their family and have less satisfaction with their choice and college experience. Moreover, Krieg expected that stress levels would be the same for senior and first-year students.
The results showed that senior students are more satisfied with their college and social life, and are more separated from family. However, they showed the same level of stress, as well as the first-year students. On the “academic”, “social”, and “family” levels, results were all around .8, while on the “college” level it was around .6, both for first-year and senior students, which obviously indicate poor satisfaction with college courses and offerings.
This research has many positive aspects. Firstly, it is a strong evidence basis for the hypothesis. All arguments are made based on previous analyses and data, which support points that Krieg makes. Secondly, it is significance of this research. It contains data from almost every previous research, and it is the most-complete research on this topic and great contribution to the field. Thirdly, it is the methodology of the study. Combination of approaches (quantitative, comparative, analytic) gives makes this study better-rounded and more reliable. People with no demographic differences participated, which adds validity to the results of this study.
The study has negative sides too. One of the most-massive flaws is absence of clear conclusion. Author provides results of questionnaires in numbers and that is all. Krieg does not summarize the research, so it is difficult to understand if the results are the same as theses. Although the study has evidently supported arguments and great methodology, it is not conclusive, so further researches must be conducted in order to summarize the data collected by Krieg. Second flaw is a small number of participants. For such a big field, author should have drawn more people into it in order to receive the whole picture.
In summary, this research is remarkable in terms of methodology, significance, and argumentation. However, the author has failed to provide a conclusion for the study and summarize her findings, which ruins excellence of Krieg’s research. Bigger researches should be undertaken for summarizing and receiving results that are more complete. Despite flaws, Krieg did a great job on this subject and made a significant contribution to this topic, which will definitely help future researchers conduct complete study that will reveal the whole picture.