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01/08/2013 04:36 pm ET

U.S. College Students Feel Super Special About Themselves: American Freshman Survey

College students in the United States think they're brilliant snowflakes now more than ever before, according to new research.

The findings come from an annual survey of thousands of college freshmen, conducted by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) of the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles. Aside from asking what students think of their own abilities, the survey also measures students' economic, ethnic and educational backgrounds along with other demographic data.

The survey asked students to rate how they measure up to their peers in a number of basic skills areas, the BBC reports. The number of students who describe themselves as exceptional has grown.

American students have increasingly given themselves "above average" ratings on several attributes but bragged most regarding their "drive to achieve." Almost four-fifths of survey responders say they're above average in this category.

The new findings from CIRP substantiate a 2006 study from Florida State University that found modern college students are more ambitious, perhaps to a point beyond what they are capable of, leading to "ambition inflation."

The end to this may be near, though. A 2011 report from the American Psychological Association suggested that although college students have grown more narcissistic since the 1970s, the levels appear to be flattening. CIRP's American Freshman survey's data shows that the rate of students who describe themselves as above average is not increasing so quickly as it was from 1966 to 1985.

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