Boston (CBS CONNECTICUT) – Upon completion of their senior year, a majority of female students left their university with lower self-confidence than when they entered.
A study conducted last spring by the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment at Boston College found that women’s surveys – one conducted their freshman year, the other at graduation – showed a drop in confidence despite reports of high academic achievement.
In contrast, men generally gained self-confidence during their four years at BC, despite having lower average GPAs.
Some faculty members expressed shock at the disparity between the information reported in the women’s academic lives versus their personal lives.
“I think it became clear to us when we started having the conversations that it wasn’t just an academic thing, it was a cultural thing,” Vice President of Planning and Assessment Kelli Armstrong said. “We needed people outside just the academic culture to weigh in.”
Many faculty and sociologists suggested that pressure to look or dress in a certain way, hookup culture among students and the housing lottery on campus all played negative roles in female students’ lives.
Chair of the history department, Robin Fleming, was among the faculty who expressed shock at the statistics.
“None of us ever had a clue about this, and it turns out that it’s this incredible drama for everybody,” Fleming told BC’s Heights publication. “How is it that we never knew this?” She added that conversations initiated by the committee enlightened her to “this total disjuncture between student life and academic life.”
Among the questions asked at the freshman student orientation, and again their senior year included: “What do you think of your academic achievement” and “How would you rate your drive to succeed?”
Maria Pascucci, the founder of Campus Calm, a national organization to help college-age women lead happier, healthy lives, told USA Today’s collegiate correspondent that there is a constant strain for women to be perfect all the time.
She added that mixed media messages demanding women to strive to be the best while buying and wanting more leads many college students to confusion.
“In our society, being a perfectionist is a glorified and socially acceptable form of self-abuse,” Pascucci told USA Today.