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

A survey of college freshmen reports an uptick in study time and a bit less partying. Here's a look at ways first-time freshmen depart from previous freshman classes.

3. Leaning more liberal

Harold Shapiro/The Christian Science Monitor/File
Yale University student Alissa Stollwerk (right) of Albertson, N.Y., was secretary of the Yale College Democrats in New Haven, Conn., in 2004. She registers Neeraj Singh, of Cincinnnati, to vote during the 'Storming the Dorms' voter registration campaign on campus.

Nearly 28 percent of first-year college students describe themselves as liberal. That’s down slightly from 29 percent in 2009. Nearly 21 percent say they’re conservative.

But on some key issues that are considered to be liberal, support has increased significantly. The portion of students supporting the right of gay couples to marry is about 71 percent, up from 65 percent in 2009. Also up several percentage points: support for legal abortion (60.7 percent), legalized marijuana (49.1 percent), and giving students from disadvantaged backgrounds preferential treatment in college admissions (42.1 percent). The percentage who say access to public universities should be denied to undocumented immigrants is down, from 47.2 percent to 43 percent.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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