Published: Sept. 1, 2016

Bruce Benson

Best Investment 

CU completed a four-campus alumni survey this summer. President Bruce D. Benson (Geol’64; HonDocSci’04) says the insights gleaned from more than 15,000 responses underscore the value of a CU degree. 

CU does lots of alumni surveys. How was this one different? 

It’s the first time we surveyed alumni of all four campuses and looked at their satisfaction with their education and earnings across disciplines and the span of their careers, whether they are a year removed from graduation or 40 or more. 

What were the key takeaways? 

CU alumni are quite pleased with the education they received, with about 95 percent reporting they are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied. The median income of those who earned a bachelor’s degree and are employed is $68,000, well above the average annual income for those with an undergraduate degree, $48,818, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Some 87 percent of respondents agreed that the benefits of a CU education outweighed the cost. Additionally, about 95 percent said they view the university favorably. 

What was surprising? 

The extent to which alumni are working in the field they studied. There’s a common notion that people change careers frequently and therefore what they studied in college won’t be as relevant to their working lives over the long haul. Yet we found that substantial numbers of alumni in a variety of fields put their CU education to use in their careers. That’s particularly so in health care, science, technology and engineering and art, design and entertainment. 

What was missing in the study? 

We looked at what our alumni do and how their education served them, but we didn’t examine what our state and society need from us. We’d obviously have to take a different approach to learning that, but I would use the recent example of reports of the looming teacher shortage. We have a role in addressing substantial societal needs like that, so the questions are, what are those needs and how do we go about addressing them. 

You’re an alumnus. Are you satisfied with your CU education? 

It was one of the best investments I ever made.

Illustration by Melinda Josie