I saw an article from the January 29th Huffington Post (College) titled Record Low Number of College Freshmen Partying: UCLA CIRP Survey. It discussed the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) which does an annual survey of U.S. college and university freshmen. For 2012 they had data on 192,912 students from 283 four-year institutions. You can download The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2012 here at a UCLA website. The article mentioned that students had bragged most about their drive to achieve, so I went to look up and see whether they also had bragged about their public speaking.
Students were asked if they rated themselves “Highest 10%” or “Above Average” as compared with the average person their age in 19 different categories (see page 42). Results are shown above in a bar chart. (Click on it to see a larger, clearer version). The top five categories in percent were drive to achieve (76.4%), cooperativeness (69.1%), academic ability (69.0%), understanding of others (67,9%), and leadership ability (61.1%). Contrast this with public speaking ability (36.8%), which was ranked just 15th.
One of the running gags on Garrison Keillor’s radio show A Prairie Home Companion is a fictional town called Lake Wobegon where:
“...all the children are above average.”
Students in the CIRP survey knew better than that. As merely freshmen they have plenty of time to take some courses to help them improve before they graduate and go to work.