Backstory: College life by the numbers

As colleges reopen, here's a statistical snapshot of life on campus – from tuition costs to faculty politics – without any calculus thrown in.

Big picture

17.6 million students are enrolled in America's 4,216colleges and universities.

57.2 percent of undergrads are women.

30.4 percent of undergrads are minorities.

50 percent of full-time college students work part time.

38 percent of undergrads are 25 or older.

54.3 percent of college freshmen graduate in six years.

Sticker shock

$12,605 is the average annual tuition, room, and board at four-year public colleges for in-state students, more than double the 1990 cost.

$34,698 is the average annual tuition, room, and board at four-year private colleges, also more than twice the 1990 tab.

Costly colleges

The most expensive tuition bills for 2005-06 (without room and board):

Landmark (Vt.) – $37,738
George Wash. U. (Wash. D.C.) – $36,400
U. of Richmond (Va.) – $34,850
Sarah Lawrence (N.Y.) – $34,042
Kenyon (Ohio) – $33,930

Hot topics

Most popular majors in 2004:

1. Business – 21.9 percent
2. Social science – 10.7 percent
3. Education – 7.6 percent
4. Psychology – 5.9 percent
5. Engineering – 5.6 percent

Big campus

57,026 students are enrolled at Miami Dade College, making it America's biggest student body.

Freshmen's favorite flicks

Top 5 college movies, according to Sports Illustrated's magazine, SI on Campus:

1. Old School
2. PCU
3. Good Will Hunting
4. National Lampoon's Animal House
5. Drumline

Study abroad

191,321 American students studied abroad in 2003-04.

16.8 percent of them went to the United Kingdom.


360,000 students at 1,265 institutions compete each year in 23 different NCAA sports.

44 percent of those are female.

2 percent of NCAA men's basketball and football students go on to play professionally.

107,501 seats fill the University of Michigan's football stadium, the most of any college venue.

Coach compensation

Median salaries for head coaches:

Football – $73,707
Men's basketball – $63,202
Women's basketball – $55,616
Baseball – $48,014

Degrees of separation

16.1 percent of Americans have no high school diploma.

29.5 percent have a high school diploma.

20.3 percent have some college, but no degree.

17.2 percent have a bachelor's degree.

9.8 percent have a graduate degree.

Earning power

$74,602 is the average annual earnings of workers with an advanced degree.

$51,206 is the average for those with bachelor's degrees.

$27,915 for those with a high school diploma only.

$18,734 for those with no high school diploma.

Speaking up

62 percent of college freshmen say they often ask questions in class or contribute to class discussions.

75 percent say they speak up senior year.

Speaking out

63 percent of last year's freshmen agreed dissent is critical to the political process.

49.7 percent participated in an organized demonstration as high school seniors.

Campus political hues

51.3 percent of full-time professors consider their own political views to be liberal or far left.

19.5 percent of faculty members consider their views to be conservative or far right.

30.5 percent of last year's entering freshmen considered their own political views to be liberal or far left.

24.5 percent of last year's entering freshmen considered their views to be conservative or far right.

Back-to-school shopping

$5.78 billion is how much Americans are expected to spend on back-to-college clothing and accessories.

$11.69 billion is how much college students are expected to spend on textbooks.

Parsed tongues

Breakdown of foreign-language study (2002):

1. Spanish – 53.4 percent
2. French – 14.5 percent
3. German – 6.5 percent
4. Italian – 4.6 percent
5. American Sign Language – 4.4 percent

Student spirituality

80 percent of freshmen last year said they have an interest in spirituality.

64 percent said their spirituality was a source of joy.

47 percent sought opportunities to help them grow spiritually.

Zeitgeist of class of 2010

Most freshmen entering college this fall were born in 1988. Therefore, according to Beloit College:

•Thanks to pervasive headphones in the back seat, parents have always been able to speak freely in the front.

•Dolphin-free canned tuna has always been on sale.

•The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is as scary as the student union.

•Carbon copies are oddities found in their grandparents' attics.

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