Vast majority of surveyed 2012 seniors give CU-Boulder high marks

May 8, 2013

In an extensive survey of University of Colorado Boulder seniors in 2012, an overwhelming majority of the nearly 3,000 respondents expressed positive views of their educational experiences at CU-Boulder.

About four in five respondents reported satisfaction with their CU-Boulder education. A similar proportion would recommend CU-Boulder to a friend and nearly 98 percent of the seniors reported that their program of study met their educational goals.

The 2012 study is the latest edition of the senior survey, conducted 11 times since 1985 by CU-Boulder’s Office of Planning, Budget and Analysis, or PBA.

“The survey data clearly demonstrate that these students, from their perspective as seniors, judge the university in overwhelmingly positive terms,” said Michael Grant, CU-Boulder associate vice chancellor for undergraduate education. “CU-Boulder routinely invests a lot of time and energy in polling our senior students about their experiences, academic and otherwise, in order to continuously work toward improving those experiences.”

The online questionnaire was sent to 7,646 degree-seeking seniors and was completed by 2,890, or 38 percent, of the recipients. Comprising about 200 scaled items, plus four open-ended questions, the survey collected a massive amount of information including nearly 7,900 written comments.

The 2012 seniors’ ratings of CU-Boulder advising services were higher than those from any previous senior survey. The seniors’ satisfaction with numerous other CU-Boulder services, from libraries to information technology, was high and generally comparable to that of earlier cohorts.

“We use the survey results extensively to look at what’s popular and working well, to set goals to improve services, and even to pass along advice,” said Jim Davis Rosenthal, CU-Boulder director of orientation and director of the Office of Student Affairs Assessment. “Based on one of the survey questions, we are able to let incoming freshmen know what outgoing seniors wished they had gotten involved in. Other departments also use the results to encourage students to try opportunities they might not otherwise have considered. In a way, it’s like older siblings giving advice to their younger siblings.”

Large proportions of seniors said that if they were to start over at CU-Boulder, they would put more effort toward or spend more time on interacting with faculty (60 percent), career exploration (51 percent), and campus-related research projects, internships and applied experiences (45 percent).

Nearly two-thirds of seniors who expected to graduate by summer 2012 reported that their principal activity in fall 2012 was most likely to be paid employment, either full time (48 percent) or part time (15 percent). A combined 15 percent said they were most likely to be enrolled in graduate studies, professional school or other coursework. A combined 13 percent expected to go into military service, or pursue volunteer service, an internship, student teaching or travel.

The thousands of student comments included praise for various aspects of their major programs, suggestions for ways to enhance and improve major programs, and descriptions of ways in which their major program did or did not meet their educational goals.

One student wrote, “I feel that I am prepared to be an exceptional teacher after I graduate. The school had a lot to do with my preparedness.” Another wrote, “Excellent material, mostly great professors, and fantastic facilities all add up to a well-rounded education.”

The survey collects information on seniors’ satisfaction with their educational experiences at CU-Boulder and about their post-graduation plans. The survey’s findings are used primarily to provide systematic information for academic and service units to use in planning and improvement, and for use by prospective and current students, their advisers, and their families.

Preliminary results for the Seniors’ Future Plans Survey, which is separate from the comprehensive senior survey and which has been conducted each year since 2009, show a jump in full-time employment expectations. The initial data show that 54 percent of CU-Boulder seniors in 2013 expect full-time employment to be their principal activity after graduation, an increase from 48 percent in 2012. Expectations for part-time employment were reported by 15 percent of the 2013 seniors.

The 2012 questionnaire and comprehensive data from the senior survey, including summary reports from students in each of CU-Boulder’s schools and colleges and nearly 50 departments, are available at

Bronson Hilliard, CU spokesperson, 303-735-6183
Malinda Miller-Huey, CU spokesperson, 303-492-3115
Frances Costa, Planning, Budget and Analysis, 303-492-8633