2005 HEDS Senior Survey Report

Prepared January, 2006, by Mary Ann Weaver

Introduction and Method

In this report, we describe various characteristics of our students as they are preparing to move beyond Earlham.  This research summarizes such aspects as the students' family backgrounds, the types of activities in which they participated while at Earlham and their satisfaction with their undergraduate experience.  In addition to this, the survey also looks at their future plans and priorities.  The survey attempts to make longitudinal comparisons of many of these students’ self-reported attitudes, values, and perceptions with those of the seniors of 2000 and 2002.

This survey instrument was designed by the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS).  We have included in this report comparative data from our peer institutions provided by HEDS.  (See Appendix  for a list of schools included in the peer group and the response rate for each school.) 

On April 13, 2005, a senior meeting was conducted to inform prospective graduates of plans for their graduation and baccalaureate. At that meeting, we also administered the HEDS Senior Survey. Eighty-four seniors completed the survey at that meeting. The remaining 148 prospective graduates were sent a survey in campus mail. Overall, more than half of the seniors (131 or 56.5%) completed the HEDS Senior Survey.

Click here for links to the tables contained in this report.

Characteristics of the Sample

Of the group of seniors who responded, 42% were male and 58% were female.  A total of 70% of the fathers and 73% of the mothers of these students had at least a college degree and 54% of the mothers and 51% of the fathers had a graduate degree.  In this sample 7% of the mothers as well as 12% of the fathers had completed a doctorate degree.

Several questions were asked of these seniors about their activities during their time at Earlham.  Table 1 assesses some of the students' activities during college. The survey shows a decreasing percentage of seniors participating in study abroad since 2000, yet the percentage of 2005 senior respondents reporting study abroad is greater than the percentage of students from our peer institutions studying abroad.1 The percentage of seniors who applied for a grant or fellowship increased significantly from 2002 and yet remains less than the peer schools.

Table 1

Percentages of Seniors Who Participated in Different Academic Activities

Activities During College

Earlham 2000

Earlham 2002

Earlham 2005

Peer Group 2005

Semester or Year Abroad

79%

70.3%

65%

54%

Independent Study

64%

43.9%

51%

46%

Off-Campus Internship

53%

42.5%

49%

43%

Summer Paid Internship

29%

24.5%

31%

35%

Apply for Grant or Fellowship

29%

17.5%

31%

34%

Racial/Cultural Awareness Program

25%

14.6%

28%

16%

Summer Travel Abroad

27%

27.8%

25%

21%

Leadership Training

22%

21.2%

21%

26%

Gender Studies Program

25%

15.1%

18%

15%

Residence Hall Assistantship

24%

14.6%

14%

14%

Sexual Harassment Program

18%

12.3%

11%

7%

Honor Society

16%

10.8%

8%

20%

 

The seniors were asked in which years during college did they actively participate in various activities.  Table 2 shows the percentage of students who actively participated for one year and the percentage who actively participated for more than one year.  The remaining columns show the percentage increase or decrease in participation from their first to fourth years in college.  The percentage change can be compared to the 2000 and 2002 seniors.

The activities in which the greatest percentage of students  participated for more than one year were performing arts and volunteer service. It is understandable why the level of activity that increased the greatest from first to senior year was faculty research.  Literary magazine and campus media also increased significantly from first year to senior year, while participation in student government decreased significantly. This is a sharp contrast from the seniors in 2002 and 2000 who reported having an increase in participation in student government from 1st to 4th year.  


Table 2

Percentages of Seniors Who Actively Participated in Each Activity

Activity

Participated for one year

Participated for more than one year

Percent Increase or Decrease from first to fourth year

Seniors in 2000

Percent Increase or Decrease from first to fourth year

Seniors in 2002

Percent Increase or Decrease from first to fourth year

Seniors in 2005

Faculty Research

10.7

8.4

+52

+62.5

+44.0

Campus Media

8.4

3.8

+21

+27.2

+25

Literary Magazine

3.1

1.5

+28

+6.3

+16.7

Performing Arts

9.2

41.2

-16

+7

+4.5

Intercollegiate Athletics

7.6

25.2

-17

-16.2

+2.3

Intramural Athletics

13.0

30.5

+32

-1.3

+1.7

Cultural Group

3.1

15.3

+7

+13.8

0

Volunteer Service

15.3

40.5

-23

-5.8

-5.5

Religious Group

8.4

16.8

-23

-5.9

-6.1

Student Newspaper

10.7

17.6

+39

+6.2

-8.1

Political Club

6.9

9.2

-40

-24.4

-9.5

Social Action Group

11.5

16.8

-22

-2.9

-16.3

Student Government

6.1

3.1

+18

+14.3

-41.6

Table 3 illustrates the frequency of the following academic, cultural, and religious activities throughout the seniors' undergraduate career compared to our peer group.

Table 3

Frequency of Activities

                                               Activity

Earlham 2002 Mean Scores

Earlham 2005 Mean Scores

Peer Group 2005 Mean Scores

Academic Discussions with Students

3.3

3.5

3.3

Class Presentations

3.2

3.3

3.0

Group Projects

3.0

3.2

2.7

Discussions with Students of Different Beliefs

3.0

3.0

3.0

Cultural Events

2.9

3.1

2.7

Guest in Faculty Member's Home

2.3

2.2

1.9

Multimedia Presentations

2.2

2.5

2.3

Religious Services

1.6

1.8

1.6

Organized Demonstrations

1.6

1.7

1.5

4=Very often, 3=Often, 2=Occasionally, 1=Never

Earlham seniors were more likely to do group projects or to attend a cultural event than seniors at our peer institutions. Only 18.1% of the students from our peer group indicated doing group projects "very often" compared to 43% of the Earlham seniors.

Table 4 shows some abilities and types of knowledge that may be developed in a bachelor's degree program.  The seniors indicated the extent to which each capacity was enhanced by their undergraduate experiences.

It appears that Earlham seniors feel their ability to relate to people of different races, nations, or religions has been enhanced somewhat more so than seniors from our peer institutions. Also, the Earlham seniors in 2005 reported a greater level of enhancement in this area than the Earlham seniors in 2002 or 2000. Most other abilities were enhanced to about the same degree as the peer group and previous Earlham seniors.


Table 4

Enhancement of Abilities

Enhancement of Abilities

Earlham 2000

Earlham 2002

Earlham 2005

Peer Group 2005

Gain In-depth Knowledge of a Subject

3.5

3.5

3.6

3.6

Acquire New Skills and Knowledge

3.5

3.5

3.5

3.5

Relate to people of Different Races,Nations, or Religions

3.1

3.2

3.5

2.9

Work Under Pressure

3.4

3.4

3.4

3.5

Write Effectively

3.4

3.4

3.4

3.5

Understand Myself

3.5

3.3

3.4

3.4

Function Independently

3.4

3.3

3.4

3.4

Think Analytically and Logically

3.4

3.3

3.4

3.6

Develop Awareness of Social Problems

3.4

3.2

3.4

3.2

Formulate Creative Ideas and Solutions

3.2

3.2

3.3

3.3

Understand Moral and Ethical Issues

3.3

3.2

3.3

3.1

Place Problems in Historical Perspective

3.3

3.2

3.3

3.2

Plan and Execute Projects

3.3

3.1

3.3

3.2

Establish Course of Action

3.2

3.1

3.3

3.2

Engage in Pursuit of Knowledge and Truth

3.3

3.1

3.3

3.2

Function Effectively as a Team Member

3.2

3.1

3.2

3.0

Communicate Well Orally

3.1

3.1

3.1

3.1

Develop Self-Esteem

3.1

2.9

3.0

3.0

Evaluate and Choose Alternatives

3.1

3.0

3.0

3.1

Lead and Supervise Groups

3.1

2.9

2.9

2.9

Appreciate Art

3.0

2.9

2.8

2.9

Use Technology

2.7

2.7

2.7

2.7

Understand Process of Science

2.8

2.7

2.7

2.6

Evaluate Role of Science and Technology in Society

2.8

2.7

2.6

2.6

Read or Speak Foreign Language

2.8

2.5

2.6

2.4

Use Quantitative Tools

2.5

2.5

2.5

2.7

Scale: 4=Greatly, 3=Moderately, 2=A Little, 1=Not at all

Table 5 refers to the quality of the seniors' academic experiences while they attended Earlham.  The Earlham seniors were most satisfied with their interaction with faculty, faculty availability and off-campus study. They were least satisfied with their first-year advising.  They were much more satisfied with the quality of advising once they declared a major and were assigned an advisor from that particular field of study.  Earlham students’ level of satisfaction is similar to that of our peer group in most areas. 

Table 5

Quality of Academic Experiences

Scale: 4=Very Satisfied, 3=Generally Satisfied, 2=Generally Dissatisfied, 1=Very Dissatisfied

Mean Scores

Earlham 2005

Peer Group 2005

Student Interaction with Faculty

3.6

3.5

Faculty Availability Outside of Class

3.6

3.6

Internship or Study Off-Campus or Abroad

3.6

3.4

Major Advising

3.1

3.2

Independent Study

3.1

3.3

Tutorial Help or Other Academic Assistance

3.1

3.2

Availability of Courses

3.0

2.9

First Year Advising

2.8

2.8

Table 6 shows how the seniors rated the quality of course instruction during their undergraduate experience at Earlham. The Earlham seniors indicated  their greatest satisfaction with the quality of the course instruction in the Social Sciences.  The 2005 seniors rated course instruction in social science, humanities/arts, and science/math higher than the 2002 seniors.

Table 6

Quality of Course Instruction

Mean Scores

Earlham 2002

Earlham 2005

Peer Group 2005

Social Sciences

3.3

3.5

3.5

Humanities and Arts

3.1

3.4

3.5

Science and Math

3.1

3.3

3.2

Business

2.8

2.6

2.8

Engineering

2.7

2.7

2.8

Scale:  4=Very Satisfied, 3=Generally Satisfied, 2=Generally Dissatisfied, 1=Very Dissatisfied

Table 7 shows the seniors' mean score of their overall satisfaction with their undergraduate education at Earlham.  Their level of satisfaction was similar to the Earlham seniors in 2000 and 2002 and the same as the level of satisfaction of seniors at our peer institutions.

Table 7

Overall Satisfaction with Undergraduate Experience

Mean Scores

Earlham 2000

Earlham 2002

Earlham 2005

Peer Group 2005

Overall Satisfaction

3.4

3.4

3.3

3.3

Scale: 4=Very Satisfied, 3=Generally Satisfied, 2=Generally Dissatisfied, 1=Very Dissatisfied

Table 8 demonstrates the seniors' satisfaction with the quality of campus services and facilities. The seniors consistently rated the quality of Earlham’s recreation/athletic facilities higher than the peer group which may be an indication of the success of our Wellness Center.  The level of quality of the counseling services, classroom/laboratory facilities, computer services and student health services was rated slightly higher by the seniors in 2005 than the seniors in 2002.

Table 8

Quality of Campus Services and Facilities

Scale: 4=Very Satisfied, 3=Generally Satisfied, 2=Generally Dissatisfied, 1=Very Dissatisfied

Mean Scores
Earlham 2000
Earlham 2002
Earlham 2005
Peer Group 2005
Recreation/Athletics Facilities
3.4
3.4
3.4
2.8
Library Services
3.6
3.4
3.3
3.5
Library Facilities and Resources
3.4
3.3
3.3
3.5
Classroom/Laboratory Facilities
3.0
3.0
3.3
3.3
Student Health Services
2.9
2.9
3.2
2.9
Registrar's Office
3.4
3.3
3.2
2.9
Computer Facilities and Resources
3.1
3.1
3.2
3.2
Recreation/Athletics Programs
3.1
3.1
3.2
2.8
Financial Aid Package
3.1
2.9
3.1
3.0
Financial Aid Office
3.2
2.9
3.1
3.0
Computer Services and Support
2.8
2.9
3.0
3.0
Student Financial Services
3.1
2.9
3.0
3.0
Career Services
3.0
2.9
2.9
2.6
Counseling Services
2.0
2.7
2.9
3.0
Student Housing
2.9
2.8
2.8
3.0
Student Center Programs
2.7
2.6
Student Center Facilities
2.5
2.5
Food Services
2.5
2.9

 

Seniors were asked to rate the quality of campus life.  Table 9 shows that the 2005 Earlham seniors were more satisfied with student voice in policies than the 2002 seniors. Earlham seniors are much more satisfied with ethnic/racial diversity, climate for minority students on campus and the sense of community on campus than the seniors from the peer group. Cultural and fine arts programming was rated lower than the peer group.

Table 9

Quality of Campus Life

Scale: 4=Very Satisfied, 3=Generally Satisfied, 2=Generally Dissatisfied, 1=Very Dissatisfied

Mean Scores

Earlham 2000

Earlham 2002

Earlham 2005

Peer Group 2005

Campus Safety

3.5

3.2

3.1
3.1

Lectures and Speakers

3.2

3.0

3.2
3.2

Sense of Community on Campus

3.2

3.0

3.2
2.9

Cultural and Fine Arts Programming

2.8

2.9

2.8
3.1

Social Life on Campus

3.0

2.9

2.8
2.8

Student Government

2.9

2.9

3.0
2.7

Religious/Spiritual Life

3.4

2.9

3.0
2.8

Student Voice in Policies

2.8

2.8

3.1
2.7

Ethnic/Racial Diversity

2.5

2.8

3.0
2.4

Climate for Minority Students on Campus

2.4

2.6

2.8
2.5

Table 10 shows a comparison of where Earlham seniors had lived during their four years at Earlham.  Their first year, the majority of the 2005 seniors (96.1%) lived in the residence halls, while only 2.3% lived with their parents or relatives.  As the seniors progressed through their college education, there was a significant decrease in the number that lived in the residence halls.  And as the numbers of those who lived in the residence halls decreased, the number of those who lived in an off-campus apartment increased.  By their senior year only 20% of seniors lived in the residence halls, as compared to 36% in an off-campus apartment or room.

This is a significant change from the 2002 seniors who reported 34% living in a residence hall their senior year. The percentage living in campus houses their second year was much higher for the 2002 seniors (27.2%) compared to the 2005 seniors (15.7%). However by the third year, 39.8% of the 2005 seniors lived in campus houses which was similar to the percentage of 2002 seniors doing the same.


Table 10

Residence while at Earlham

 

 

First Year

Second Year

Third Year

Fourth Year

 
2002
2005
2002
2005
2002
2005
2002
2005

Residence Hall

97.4%

96.1%

70.3%

79.5%

46%

44.5%

34.0%

20.2%

With Parents or Relatives

.5%

2.3%

.5%

2.4%

1.1%

3.1%

1.5%

2.3%

Interest Housing or Other Campus Housing

.5%

0

27.2%

15.7%

41.8%

39.8%

34.5%

41.1%

Off-campus Apartment or Room

1.5%

1.6%

2.1%

2.4%

9.0%

11.7%

30.0%

35.7%

   

Table 11 represents the careers that 2005 seniors desired when they first entered Earlham, the first job they plan to have after graduation, and the long term career goal that they have in mind.  It is interesting to note that 16.4% of the 2005 senior respondents indicated they were undecided about their first job upon graduation and 12.6% were undecided about their long term career goal. Only 8.8% of these seniors were undecided about their career when entering Earlham. And while 10.4% expressed an interest in a career in education when they entered and 7.1% consider education a long term goal, 21.6% plan to have a job in education as their first job after graduation.

 

Table 11

Career Plans

Career

Career desired when entered college 

First job upon graduation

Long term career goal

 

%

%

%

Accounting

0
0
0

Advertising, Public Relations

1.6
4.3
.8

Architecture, Design, or Planning

.8
0
.8

Arts/Entertainment

8.8
4.3
7.1

Biology/Life Science

3.2
.9
2.4

Broadcasting, Media Productions

.8
0
1.6

Business Owner, Proprietor, Entrepreneur

0
2.6
5.5

College/Univ. Teaching/Research

4.0
.9
6.3

College/University Administration

0
0
0

Computer Programming, Science, or Technology

4.0
.9
.8

Education, Teaching Administration

10.4
21.6
7.1

Engineering

1.6
.9
0

Environ. Science, Natural Resources

3.2
2.6
3.1

Finance

2.4
2.6
0

Foreign Service, Intl Relations

4.0
3.4
7.1

Government, Politics, Public Policy

2.4
1.7
1.6

Homemaker

0
0
0

Hospitality, Travel, Tourism

0
.9
0

Law

3.2
1.7
4.7

Library, Information Science

0
0
.8

Management

.8
0
0

Marketing, Sales

.8
.9
0

Mathematics, Stats

0
0
.8

Medical Doctor

5.6
.9
3.9

Medicine, Health Care, Other

4.8
6.0
6.3

Military Science

1.6
.9
0

Physical Sciences

.8
0
0

Publishing, Print Journalism

4.0
.9
2.4

Religious Ministry or Service

2.4
3.4
3.1

Retail

0
1.7
0

Social Science or Services

16.0
7.8
13.4

Sports, Recreation

0
2.6
.8

Undecided

8.8
16.4
12.6

Other

4.0
9.5
7.1

Table 12 takes a look at some of the important career considerations that the seniors reflected upon as they decided what career they wanted to pursue.  Many seniors had more intellectual rather than individualistic attitudes when it came to which career considerations were more important.  Topping the list is interesting daily work, use of creativity and initiative, intellectual challenge, quality of colleagues and clients and expressions of personal values.  Seeking a secure future, leadership potential, and social status are slightly less important to the Earlham seniors than to seniors from our peer group. As in the past, Earlham seniors are more interested in working for social change and less interested in a high income potential than seniors from our peer group.

Table 12

Important Career Considerations

Earlham 2002

Earlham 2005

Peer Group 2005

Interesting Daily Work

3.3

3.3
3.4

Creativity and Initiative

3.3

3.3
3.2

Intellectual Challenge

3.2

3.2
3.2

Quality of Colleagues and Clients

3.2

3.2
3.1

Expression of Personal Values

3.2

3.2
3.0

Work for Social Change

2.9

2.9
2.7

Stable, Secure Future

2.8

2.9
3.1

Availability of Jobs

2.7

2.6
2.6

Leadership Potential

2.5

2.6
2.8

High Income Potential

2.1

2.2
2.4

Limited Working Hours

2.0

2.0
1.9

Social Recognition or Status

1.8

1.8
2.0

Scale: 4=Essential, 3=Very Important, 2=Somewhat Important, 1=Not Important

Students were asked about their plans for the fall after graduation. Table 13 indicates that 29% of the seniors were still searching for a position or waiting for an offer. Only 9.9% had accepted a position as of April.

Table 13

Employment

 

Frequency

Percent

Accepted a position

13

9.9

Offered a position and refused; still searching for preferred position

3

2.3

Considering one or more specific offers

11

8.4

Currently searching for a position or waiting for an offer

38

29.0

Will begin searching for a position after graduation

27

20.6

Not planning on employment this fall

18

13.7

No response

21

16.0

 

Table 14 indicates that 15.3% of the seniors have been accepted into graduate school and will be attending in the fall of 2005.

Table 14

Graduate School

 

Frequency

Percent

Accepted and will be attending in the fall

20

15.3

Accepted and deferred admission until a later date

3

2.3

Placed on waiting list, no acceptances

1

.8

No acceptances

4

3.1

Not planning on school this fall

60

45.8

No response

43

32.8

 

If these Earlham seniors had the chance to relive their college experience, would they choose to attend Earlham again?  Table 15 shows that 72.6% of the Earlham respondents indicated they probably would or definitely would. While 8.5% of the Earlham seniors reported that they probably or definitely would not choose Earlham again, 13% of the peer group seniors said they probably or definitely would not choose the same institution again.

Table 15 

Choose same institution again?

 

Earlham

Peer Group
 
%
%

Definitely not

2.3

3.7

Probably not

6.2

9.3

Maybe

17.8

17.4

Probably would

34.9

33.5

Definitely would

38.8

36.1

Also included on the survey were questions unique to Earlham. Most of these same questions were included on the 2002 senior survey for comparison purposes. Table 16 shows that the mean score showing the extent to which Earlham reached particular goals improved in all but two areas compared to 2002. The greatest improvement was seen in their proficiency in a foreign language. Other items that showed notable increases in mean scores between the seniors of 2002 and the seniors of 2005 include "interpreting a work, idea, text or culture from different perspectives", a "global awareness and solid knowledge of other cultures", and "the desire and the skills of a lifelong learner".

Table 16

The extent to which Earlham reached particular goals

 

Goals

2002

2005

Difference

Reading, reflection, writing, and oral communication.

2.16

1.89

.27

A grasp of the habits of thought and intellectual methods of different disciplines

2.26

2.17

.09

An understanding of the scientific method and its application in laboratory settings.

2.65

2.69

.04

The ability to interpret a work, idea, text, or culture from different perspectives.

2.20

1.87

.33

Skills to gather and evaluate information from many sources, including print and electronic media.

2.10

1.98

.12

Experience in engaging interdisciplinary and integrative inquiries.

2.31

2.03

.28

Recognize that consistence, commitment, and depth are critical ingredients for developing a system of ethnics, and for any thoughtful engagement with life.

N/A

2.33

N/A

A sense of responsibility that comes with knowledge.

2.31

2.13

.18

Proficiency in at least one non-native language.

2.96

2.58

.38

A global awareness and solid knowledge of other cultures.

2.52

2.18

.34

An understanding of the formal dynamics of works of art.

2.99

2.94

-.05

Personal creativity and confidence in one's ideas.

2.31

2.32

-.01

Skills in group and cooperative learning.

2.38

2.12

.26

An awareness of one's self as a biological organism, a political and social being, a maker of art, and a reflective and thoughtful moral agent.

2.33

2.31

.02

A desire and the skills to be lifelong learner.

2.10

1.75

.35

Scale: 1= As much as possible, 2= Quite a bit, 3= Moderately, 4= Somewhat, 5= Not at all 

 

In an attempt to determine the extent to which  Earlham has influenced these students, the survey asks the students how likely they are to do certain activities based on their Earlham experience. Some students commented that this question was difficult to answer.  For example, while they may feel they definitely will vote in a local election in the future, they are not necessarily convinced that they will be voting “as a result of the Earlham influence”. 

The mean scores for the 2005 senior respondents were greater than the mean score for the 2002 seniors in all activities.  The greatest difference occurred in voting in a local election.

 

Table 17

Based on your Earlham experience, how likely are you to do the following?

Activity

2005

2002

Difference

Vote in a local election

4.34

3.85

+.49

Keep up with new developments and events in science

3.6

3.59

+.01

Regularly attend cultural/artistic events

4.08

3.89

+.19

Actively work on personal spiritual growth

3.55

3.41

+.14

Travel abroad

4.39

4.07

+.32

Scale: 1= Definitely not, 2= Probably not, 3= Maybe, 4= Probably would, 5= Definitely would

 

The survey allows respondents to amplify on any of their responses on the questionnaire or on any aspect of their undergraduate experience. Several students indicated that the fine arts program needed additional resources and some students took the opportunity to praise the incredible faculty.

In addition to offering us insights into our seniors' lives and a source of information about their perception of the quality of their undergraduate education, we also hope that completing this survey gives seniors an opportunity to reflect upon their life as an Earlham student as well as their future lives as Earlham alumni.

 

Appendix

Peer Group

School Response Rate
Bates College 76.8%
Guilford College 56.3%
Hamilton College 71.5%
Haverford College 68.9%
Kalamazoo College 66.3%
Occidental College 36.9%
Pitzer College 94.3%
Reed College 33.9%
Scripps College 68.3%
University of the South 43.8%
   
Earlham College 56.5%

 

Tables in the Senior 2005 Report

Table 1 Percentage of Seniors Who Participated in Different Academic Activities
Table 2 Percentage of Seniors who Actively Participated in Each Campus Activity
Table 3 Frequency of Participation in Campus Activities
Table 4 Enhancement of Abilities
Table 5 Quality of Academic Experiences
Table 6 Quality of Course Instruction
Table 7 Overall Satisfaction with Undergraduate Experience
Table 8 Quality of Campus Services and Facilities
Table 9 Quality of Campus Life
Table 10 Residence while at Earlham
Table 11 Careers desired, first job, long term career goals
Table 12 Important Career Considerations
Table 13 Employment
Table 14 Graduate School
Table 15 Choose Earlham Again?
Table 16 The extent to which Earlham reached particular goals
Table 17 Likelihood of participation in various activities in the future

1This survey data differs from the data collected on the entire student body by the International Programs Office which shows that the percentage of students participating in semester or year-long study abroad was 66.2% in 2000, 65.1% in 2002 and 53.35% in 2005.

Created by Mary Ann Weaver
weavema@earlham.edu
January 12, 2006