(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
A new survey released Sunday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project states the Internet, whether for fun or research, is integrated into college life every day.
Nearly 80 percent of students surveyed said the Internet has added to their college academic experience. The survey, which has a margin of error of 2 percentage points, was distributed randomly and answered by 2,054 students this spring.
Andrea Heisserer of Oran is a student at Southeast Missouri State University where she said everyone uses the Internet in college. "A lot of people go to the computer labs in between classes. They check their e-mail or look at Web sites.
Sometimes labs are so full, you have to wait in line until a computer opens up," she said.
The survey of college students across the country found that 86 percent use the Internet, compared with 59 percent of the overall U.S. population.
Students can use the Internet to research, register for classes, check their grades on a course Web site or e-mail.
Heisserer said she uses the Internet to look up information -- for school or entertainment, to use her e-mail or to play games. She also registers for classes online.
The survey found that much of students' Internet surfing is not related to schoolwork. In fact, 42 percent of students who use the Internet say they use it most often to keep in touch with friends by instant message or e-mail, compared with 38 percent who use the Internet most often for academics. Nearly three-quarters say most of the e-mail they send is to friends.
Tiffany Glastetter spent her freshman year at Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff before transferring to Southeast. "I would check my e-mail everyday," she recalled. "I lived away from home and it was an easy way to keep in touch with everybody."
Now in her senior year, Glastetter said these days she checks her e-mail about once a week. In her free time, she likes to play card games on the Internet. However, lately she's been using the Internet more for research than fun.
"Now I'm required to do more research within my major," Glastetter explained. "So I mainly use the Internet for researching."
According to the survey, 75 percent of college students say they use the Internet more than the library, while only 9 percent said they use the library more than the Internet for information searching.
Rather than drive to the library, search through stacks of books, photocopy information and write down source material, Glastetter prefers to do her work with a few clicks from her mouse.
"It's so much easier to look something up on the Internet at home than drive all the way to the library," Glastetter said. "It saves time -- and you don't even have to get up."
Glastetter said she uses academic databases made up of academic journals and periodicals for most of her research. Academic databases, such as EbscoHost, Proquest and Lexis-Nexis, work like Internet search engines, but are more credible than a random Web site pulled up from a search engine. Universities subscribe to these electronic sources of information and then provide the service to their students.
A majority of her professors require students to use a certain number of hardbound periodical sources for their term papers -- so students also have to learn how to use hard copy sources, Glastetter said.
Both Heisserer and Glastetter learned how to surf the Internet in their computer classes in high school. "My brother who's a sophomore in high school, already knows how to use the Internet. He probably knows more than I do," Glastetter noted.
The survey said one-fifth 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.
Glastetter admits she wouldn't know what college life would be like without the Internet. "It's (college work) already time-consuming, but it would be a lot more time-consuming if there were no Internet."