Summaries of the Open-Ended Comments -- Relevant to All Survey Respondents
The following two questions applied to all survey respondents and were each answered by approximately two-thirds of the respondents.
Since you have started at CU-Boulder, which aspects of your graduate program have pleased you the most? -- answered by 66% (65% master's, 66% doctoral) of graduate students
People: Peers, faculty, staff. Students appreciate the sense of camaraderie they have with fellow students. They appreciate the genuine efforts of some faculty and staff members to make their graduate school experiences valuable.
Professional opportunities/teaching: Students appreciate opportunities to teach at the university level, either as graduate teaching assistants or as paid professionals. They welcome opportunities for paid positions while they pursue their studies.
Research opportunities/experience/funding: Students cite well-funded research projects that they work on. It gives them chances to conduct significant research and gain legitimate experience in their fields of study. They see that many professors are bountifully funded by grants to conduct important research.
Diverse and interesting course offerings: Some programs offer cutting-edge and relevant classes, taught by engaged and interested professors.
Opportunities to do interdisciplinary work: Many programs offer students chances to take classes in several fields that all apply to a single degree. Students noted that they gain a clearer picture of the interrelatedness of different fields of study and research.
School's reputation: Students respect that CU is viewed as a "first class" research institution in many areas of study.
Social aspects: Students appreciate the social aspects of the University and of the larger Boulder and surrounding communities.
If you could change one thing about your experience as a graduate student at this university to make it more successful or fulfilling, what would it be? -- answered by 62% (63% master's, 62% doctoral) of graduate students
Better prepare students academically. Provide graduate student prep courses involving time management. The university and the graduate school and individual departments could do more to prepare first-time students. Make more university resources available, and provide better funding. Raise awareness of the network of services and facilities available to students.
Make the academics more challenging, while also focusing on authentic student learning. For example, some students cited instances of having to take required classes that cover material they've already covered in either their undergrad degree programs or in a master's program.
Eliminate cross-listing of courses (undergrad/grad, master's/PhD). There can be drastic differences in levels of knowledge among students. Undergraduates can hold back an entire class with questions that are not relevant to more advanced students.
Improve libraries. The holdings and facilities of the CU Libraries are not perceived, by some, to be adequate for a top research institution. Many students feel handicapped by the dearth of some research materials.
Diversify departments' course offerings. Some departments seem to be encumbered by faculty who repeatedly teach the same classes, using some out-dated approaches. Students want faculty to be more willing to take on new challenges and embark on courses where they'll be learning new material and new approaches along with their students.
Improve funding for graduate students. Increase the availability of scholarships and assistantships for graduate students. The quality of students' education is greatly reduced when they must find outside sources of income while following their course of studies.
Improve funding for departmental facilities, including space, equipment, research labs. Some students acknowledged that there was construction in progress in this regard, e.g. the ATLAS building and the Law school.
Hire more faculty.
Faculty members should be more open to a diversity of research areas for their students. In conducting their research, some students feel relegated to choosing among the interests of the established professors rather than being able to pursue their own passions and interests. The limited diversity of faculty interests sometimes appears to restrict and limit the range of courses that are available to students.
Faculty should not consider graduate students a source of labor for their research. Some faculty need more awareness that graduate students will soon be their colleagues as opposed to their researchers.
Improve advising and mentoring. Many faculty members are inadequately prepared to be advisors and mentors. Many neglect these essential elements of being a fully engaged faculty member by devoting the majority of their time to their own research.
Increase training and support for students to learn research methods, and improve their academic writing skills. For example, some students cited that they are not taught how to assemble effective data for statistical analysis or how to interpret the results adequately, and they are sometimes given writing assignments with little explanation of a professor's expectations.
Improve a sense of community within and across departments among graduate students and faculty. Students sometimes feel isolated, having to focus on their studies alone, and sometimes yearn for increased cross-disciplinary academic and social opportunities.
Decrease tuition and improve financial aid. Students are greatly burdened financially. Some cite having their financial aid cut after they've entered a program. Many cite the unforeseen increases in tuition once they've already begun their studies. Some cannot quit to transfer to a lower-priced program, as that would mean starting over.
Last revision 09/28/06
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