Twice per year the Student Monitor publishes its Lifestyle & Media Report. The report details what college students are watching, reading and listening to.

Overall the report indicates yet again that college students are active consumers, with the interest, resources and mobility to shop for a wide variety of products and services. And the Spring 2012 study found that compared to last year college students have more money to spend. There were increases found for monthly discretionary spending (up 15% to $225), annual personal earnings (also up 15% to $4,809) and of the 50% that receive money from home also had an increase (up 19% to $315 per month). 9% are employed full time and almost half (46%) are employed part time.

The majority are studying Business (11%), followed by Engineering (7%), Health Professions (7%), Biology (6%), Education (5%) and Psychology (5%) continue to be the most common majors. One in four believe they will need more than four years to complete their undergraduate degree.

College Students spend a lot of time using technology – computers and cell phones are a campus staple. They do still find time to watch TV with Comedy Central, ABC, ESPN, FOX and MTV as the students’ favorite networks. But the majority are not watching their favorite TV shows on a TV set, as less than half (40%) of the time spent watching television is spent watching with a traditional TV set.

Media habits:

  • Less than half the time spent watching television is spent watching with a TV set (40%, down from 45% last year) and 56% are at least “Somewhat interested” in watching television exclusively online
  • Comedy Central, ABC, ESPN, FOX and MTV are students’ favorite networks (Family Guy, How I Met Your Mother, Jersey Shore, The Big Bang Theory, Walking Dead and ESPN SportsCenter are the most watched programs)
  • Cosmo, People, SI Vogue and ESPN The Magazine are students “best read” titles

The impact of technology:

  • 95% own a mobile phone. 64% (up from 54%) of owners own a Smartphone
  • 27%, up from 16% last year own an iPhone). 28% plan to purchase a new mobile and 43% of these plan to purchase an iPhone
  • 96% own a computer (88% a laptop, 19% a desktop, 10% a tablet and 4% a netbook)
  • Among computer owners 85% use a laptop most often
  • More students use an Apple computer than any other brand
  • 11% (including 15% of Juniors) plan to buy a new computer in the next 12 months

Most commonly visited sites:

  • Facebook
  • Zinch
  • Google
  • Amazon
  • Yahoo
  • Craig’s List

The five most commonly reported past week’s activities include;

  • Sent text
  • Logged onto a social network
  • Ate fast food off campus
  • Drank bottled water
  • Used a mobile phone to take/send a photo

Students as consumers:

  • 82% report “Once I find a brand I like, I don’t try new ones” and more than four in ten (42%) report “I like to buy the newest/latest version of a product
  • Fewer than a third of students (31%) agree with the statement “If I were purchasing a new vehicle, I would purchase a Chrysler, Ford or General Motors vehicle”
  • In a typical month at school 34% make a purchase at an off campus bookstore, 44% at an on campus bookstore, 70% at an off campus convenience store, 54% in a department store, 81% at a fast food restaurant and 71% at a gas station
  • 27% have a credit card in their own name (18% VISA, 8% MasterCard, 3% Discover and 2% American Express). Chase issues 19% of all students’ VISA and MasterCards, Back of America 17% and Wells Fargo 15%
  • When asked what they expect to be doing immediately following graduation, 50% expect to be employed full-time following graduation (only 2% expect to be unemployed)

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