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SEPTEMBER 15, 2002

The Internet Goes to College
How students are living in the future with today’s technology Principal author: Steve Jones, Senior Research Fellow
Pew Internet Project Survey Analysis: Mary Madden, Research Specialist Research assistants: Lisa N. Clarke Sabryna Cornish Margaret Gonzales Camille Johnson Jessica N. Lawson Smret Smith Sarah Hendrica Bickerton Megan Hansen Guenther Lengauer Luciana Oliveria Wendy Prindle James Pyfer Pew Internet & American Life Project Lee Rainie, Director 1100 Connecticut Avenue, NW – Suite 710 Washington, D.C. 20036 202-296-0019 http://www.pewinternet.org/

Summary of Findings
College students are early adopters and heavy users of the Internet College students are heavy users of the Internet compared to the general population. Use of the Internet is a part of college students’ daily routine, in part because they have grown up with computers. It is integrated into their daily communication habits and has become a technology as ordinary as the telephone or television. ! One-fifth (20%) of today’s college students began using computers between the ages of 5 and 8. By the time they were 16 to 18 years old all of today’s current college students had begun using computers – and the Internet was a commonplace in the world in which they lived. ! Eighty-six percent of college students have gone online, compared with 59% of the general population. ! College students are frequently looking for email, with 72% checking email at least once a day. ! About half (49%) first began using the Internet in college; half (47%) first began using it at home before they arrived at college. ! The great majority (85%) of college students own their own computer, and twothirds (66%) use at least two email addresses. ! Seventy-eight percent of college Internet users say that at one time or another they have gone online just to browse for fun, compared to 64% of all Internet users. ! College Internet users are twice as likely to have ever downloaded music files when compared to all Internet users: 60% of college Internet users have done so compared to 28% of the overall population. ! College Internet users are twice as likely to use instant messaging on any given day compared to the average Internet user. On a typical day, 26% of college students use IM; 12% of other Internet users are using IM on an average day.

College students say the Internet has enhanced their education Internet use is a staple of college students’ educational experience. They use the Internet to communicate with professors and classmates, to do research, and to access library materials. For most college students the Internet is a functional tool, one that has greatly changed the way they interact with others and with information as they go about their studies. 2 Pew Internet & American Life Project

! Nearly four-fifths of college students (79%) agree that Internet use has had a positive impact on their college academic experience. ! Almost half (46%) of college students agree that email enables them to express ideas to a professor that they would not have expressed in class, but, some interactions are still primarily face-to-face: Only 19% of students said they communicate more with their professors via email than they do face-to-face. ! Nearly three-quarters (73%) of college students say they use the Internet more than the library, while only 9% said they use the library more than the Internet for information searching. ! About half of all college students (48%) are required to use the Internet to contact other students in at least some of their classes. ! Two-thirds (68%) of college students reported subscribing to one or more academic-oriented mailing lists that relate to their studies. They use these lists to carry on email discussions about topics covered in their classes. ! More than half (58%) of college students have used email to discuss or find out a grade from an instructor. ! Nearly two-thirds (65%) of...
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