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Survey to UNC-system alumni will tell us if their degree prepared them for life

Class of 2018 graduates turn their tassels at the end of the Commencement ceremony on May 13.
Class of 2018 graduates turn their tassels at the end of the Commencement ceremony on May 13.

Approximately 750,000 UNC-system undergraduate alumni received an email yesterday from their alma mater.

They were asked to participate in a survey about their undergraduate experience, ranging from their majors and extracurriculars to their preparedness for life after graduation and their careers.

The UNC system sent the 85 to 90 question survey to alumni who attended any of the 16 UNC-system colleges and universities for undergraduate degrees since 1940. The results of the alumni survey will be used to create a forthcoming 2019 survey of current UNC-system undergraduate students.

The survey was sent only to undergraduate degree-holders, because they are the largest population of UNC-system alumni. Cameron Howell, vice president of strategic initiatives, said the results will be used to compare UNC schools to other national institutions of higher education.

“In any case where survey research is being conducted or general research is being conducted, getting results and seeing those results in a vacuum doesn’t provide any context,” he said. “It’s natural to ask, ‘Are these results within the average? What can we learn by comparing these results to the way alumni in other institutions might feel about the same questions?’”

UNC-system leadership hired Gallup to conduct the survey. Strada-Gallup Alumni Surveys were used to poll alumni, and it provided the questions and the method for implementation. In addition to questions developed by Gallup, institutions within the UNC system had the opportunity to ask questions specific to their institutions. 

In an email to UNC-Chapel Hill alumni, Chancellor Carol Folt asked that people take 15 minutes to complete the survey, which aims to gauge students’ academic engagement during their undergraduate years and their post-graduation success.

“Specifically, this survey focuses on your relationships with different mentors during your time at Carolina and the helpfulness of that guidance," the email said. "It also will ask for your opinions about the rigor and value of your Carolina education.” 

The Strategic Plan passed in 2017 mandated the implementation of a survey of this sort by the end of 2018. The survey is meant to advance the goals of the UNC system, as laid out in Higher Expectations: The Strategic Plan for the University of North Carolina, 2017-2022.

Among those goals is a plan to "provide all students with outstanding academic and experiential learning opportunities to acquire ‘all useful learning’ needed to be responsible citizens, productive members of the workforce, and life-long learners in a global environment."

Howell said he looks forward to the incoming data for the opportunity to advance UNC-system goals.

“We think that this is good, due diligence work for the system to understand how graduates feel about their undergraduate experiences,” he said, “And we look forward to seeing the data and how the data compares to other responses nationally.”

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