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Columbia College Chicago
2011 Alumni Survey Report
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2011 Alumni Survey Report

Untitled Document In fall 2011, Columbia College Chicago surveyed 2,500 alumni who graduated in 2003, 2007, and 2009 on how they felt about their Columbia College experience and to find out about their current occupational and educational status. Of those alumni surveyed, 516 (21%) responded, a representative sample. The survey measured the respondents' attitudes and level of satisfaction with the college's curriculum, faculty, facilities, services, and campus life and queried them about their current workplace and community service experiences. The college conducted this study in order to better understand what specific programs and policies have impacted alumni as well as to find out information to help improve the institution.

This study is the second time the college has evaluated its long-term impact on alumni employment, income, and civic engagement. In addition, this study has drawn on a variety of public domain data, including the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Labor, and national longitudinal studies from the U.S. Department of Education (e.g., the Baccalaureate and Beyond and the High School and Beyond surveys), and other Columbia studies to provide contextual information.

Key Findings

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Summary

Overall, most respondents reflected on their time at Columbia favorably. Seventy-one percent of respondents indicated that they would definitely or probably enroll at Columbia again if they were able to choose. Seventy-nine percent of respondents reported that they would recommend the college. Alumni report high levels of satisfaction with their instruction and cite critical relationships with faculty as being a great part of their success.

Among different aspects of their educational experience and college services, alumni respondents were most satisfied with the quality of instruction within their field of study. When surveyed about personal experiences that affected them while attending Columbia, many respondents noted specific professors or staff who mentored them or provided critical support. Therefore, it is not surprising that over two-fifths of alumni indicated that they maintain communication and/or still feel connected to their instructors.

Numerous alumni respondents indicated that their experience at Columbia was integral to their career success, either through helping them to develop specific skill sets or through internship opportunities. While alumni indicated that Columbia significantly enhanced or helped them develop their creativity, the survey and written comments indicate that they would have liked their education to have provided them with curricula that would have helped them to strengthen their business and marketing skills and provided them with more training in media related technologies, regardless of the student's program.

It is part of the Columbia mission to not only train students to be successful in their chosen disciplines, but to challenge and engage students to become more aware and engaged members of their community. The high rates of participation in community service and the generosity of Columbia graduates should be positively noted. Alumni are highly engaged with their local schools and art and cultural organizations, and generously donate to national charities.

It should also be noted that the recession has been challenging for many Columbia alumni respondents. Only 63% indicated that they are working full-time. In addition, alumni respondents' unemployment mimics the national average. Compared with previous alumni studies, this study shows recent alumni income has fallen even while they report greater debt burdens. Additionally, many alumni lack health insurance.

While respondents report being more satisfied with their career and the college's job placement services than on earlier surveys, these areas continue to concern alumni. However, a higher percentage of students who have used Columbia's placement services or the Portfolio Center are working in their field of study. Respondents also indicated a desire for additional resume and interview preparation services.

For a copy of the full report, please contact Royal Dawson, Office of Research, Evaluation & Planning, at rdawson@colum.edu.

PREPARED BY RESEARCH, EVALUATION AND PLANNING