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Five shifts among college freshmen: For one, they're more studious

College freshmen report more behaviors and attitudes that predict academic success than they did in recent years, according to a new national survey by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at the University of California, Los Angeles. The survey also shows shifts in political views, use of social media, and strategies for paying for college. (See the full survey here.)

Here are five ways behaviors and attitudes have changed among first-time, full-time students at four-year colleges and universities. 

1. Academics on the rise

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    Tenth-grade students take a chemistry test in class at Springfield High School in Springfield, Ill., in 2007.
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Studying during senior year of high school is on the rise, with 39.5 of survey respondents saying they did so for more than six hours a week, up from 34.7 percent in 2009. The percentage taking notes frequently during class in their senior year also rose, from 66.5 percent to 69.2 percent. About 1 of 5 (21.7 percent) took five or more college-level AP courses during their high school years, up from 18.7 percent.

“These academic behaviors in high school do make a difference in terms of first-year retention [of college students] and [their] degree completion,” says Linda DeAngelo, a co-author of the report and HERI’s assistant director for research.

Nearly half of college freshmen (48.8 percent) expect there’s a very good chance they’ll discuss course content with fellow students outside of class, up from 46.5 percent in 2009. That’s an indicator of active rather than passive learning, Ms. DeAngelo says, and it means students are not only more likely to finish college, but also to develop “the skills needed for lifelong learning.” 

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