What joy of learning?

America's current college freshmen recall their last year of high school as drudgery, marked by worry and boredom, according to a survey released today.

And what did they look forward to in college? They fretted over how to pay for it, according to the 34th annual American Freshman survey, conducted by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Entering first-time, full-time freshmen were surveyed last year by questionnaire, mostly during summer orientation or within the first few weeks of school. More than 260,000 students at 462 two- and four-year schools participated in the survey.

A record 40 percent of the freshmen said they were "frequently bored" in their high school courses - up from 25 percent when students were first asked that question in 1985. A further sign of what researchers call "academic disengagement" was that more students spent their senior year arriving late or missing classes altogether.

It's an attitude that can be detrimental to their college experience. "This is a signal for colleges and universities to work closely with student groups and leaders," says Jennifer Lin of the United States Student Association, a Washington-based group serving 3.5 million students.

"They need to make sure if the students are already feeling disengaged in high school, that they are going to get the support, mentoring, tutoring, and other services they need to make it through college," Ms. Lin says.

Only 36 percent of students felt it was important or essential to "influence social values"; 21 percent wanted to take part in community action programs; 28 percent were interested in becoming community leaders.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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