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Survey Says … Students Don’t See Eye to Eye

Minority college students say access to campus computer labs and improved campus security are among the things that make for a satisfying undergraduate experience. Their White counterparts, however, don’t share those priorities. Also, male and female students appear to have varied priorities, according to results of a student survey conducted by Noel Levitz, a consulting firm for higher education.

Four-year private colleges and community colleges continued to satisfy students who attend them while satisfaction levels increased over time at four-year public institutions, according to the report.

“The 2006 National Student Satisfaction and Priorities Report” analyzed data from a total of 631,000 students at 507 four-year, public and private and 272 two-year community colleges between 2003 and 2006. Students were questioned about the quality of instruction, the investment in tuition, the knowledge of their advisor and the ability to experience intellectual growth. They were asked to rate these issues on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being the highest.

As a group, the report says, minority students at private and community colleges continue to face greater financial barriers than their White counterparts. Minority students at four-year private, four-year public and community colleges said access to campus computer labs was a high priority.

“It suggests a critical need for this service by those who may not have access to computers at home or in other environments,” says the report.

The issue of campus security was among the highest priorities for female students at all three institution types. It is also more important to minority students at four-year, private institutions than to their White counterparts, says the report. 

The approachability of advisors was also of key concern for male students at community colleges, as it was for minority students at four-year, public colleges. In both cases, the approachability of advisors had ramifications for the retention of these students, says the report.

According to Noel Levitz researchers, the practice of satisfaction assessment inspires trust among the stakeholders, including students, teachers, parents, boards of trustees and state and policymakers.

“Understanding what is of greatest importance to our students … is essential to the process of improving the quality of the educational experience … and to make our system more accessible, affordable, and accountable,” the report says.

By Shilpa Banerji


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