Assessment Brief #95 - Transitioning Into the First Year of College

Assessment Logo: assessment-revision-outcomes

September 2017

Miami University administers the Transition Survey to all Oxford first-year and transfer students during the first 4-6 weeks of the fall semester, with the goal of identifying students who may need support in their transition to Miami. 1,233 students completed the survey, representing a 32% response rate. Of these, 91% were first-time students, 9% were transfer students, 62% were female, and 16% were domestic minorities. Five percent were international students, and 13% were the first person to attend college in their families.

At the end of the survey, students may give permission for their answers to be individually reviewed by staff who can assist in connecting them to campus resources. Over 60% gave permission for this service. Of these, 697 students received between one and seven email communications related to their interests or concerns. Student Affairs staff followed up personally with 108 students for greater interaction.

Notable Findings

Out-of-Class Engagement

  • 88% of new first-year students had already become involved with a campus club or organization.
  • 93% had attended a campus event not required by or associated with a class.

High School to College Transition

  • 82% of students agreed it is easy to adjust to Miami academically, while 72% agreed it is easy to adjust to Miami socially.

Residence Life

  • 95% of students reported being very satisfied/satisfied/neutral about their living experience, and 91% were very satisfied/satisfied/neutral regarding their relationships with their roommate(s).


  • 86% of students indicated they study 20 hours a week or less.
  • 29% said the academic coursework was more challenging than they expected.
  • Many students felt they know how to study effectively (63% strongly agreed/agreed) and were managing their time well (67% strongly agreed/agreed).
  • 82% of students responded that they were struggling in at least one class.


  • Over 40% of students were strongly/moderately concerned about paying for college, yet most were not working (88%) or looking for work (69%).

Overall Feelings

  • More than 91% of students stated they intend to graduate from Miami, and 90% would recommend Miami to a peer.
  • 75% stated they often/always feel like they belong at Miami; 21% identified that they sometimes belong.
  • 91% believed they would be successful at Miami. Less than 2% felt they would not be successful. The remaining students were neutral at the time of the survey.
  • Slightly less than 7% were moderately or very likely to transfer to another school
  • Qualitative responses suggest that students who have made friends and become engaged outside of the classroom are more likely to have a sense of belonging.

How Can You Help?

  • Encourage students to become involved in an organization, campus job, volunteer opportunity, intramural sport, research lab, or other interest.
  • Clearly explain to students your expectations for academic success–e.g., students should spend at least two hours outside of class for every hour spent in class.