The Graduating Senior Survey is a questionnaire administered annually to seniors who have earned at least 90 credit hours and applied for their degree. Participation in the survey was voluntary. There were 3,735 graduating seniors in the 2012 class, and nearly half of them filled out the survey (1,508 was the highest number of responses recorded on any one question).
Few of them remembered having experienced at UK what many consider to be high impact or deep learning experiences. The following types of activities were rated at 70% or higher at “0 terms” or having never been undertaken at UK: independent or personalized learning (75%), study abroad (84%), undergraduate research (76%), service learning (82%), learning community (80%). The most regular participation in high impact activities that they remembered participating in during their time at UK were community service/volunteer work (nearly a third indicated they did this every year at UK) and a practicum or internship (nearly half remembered being involved in this kind of activity in one or two terms).
Students were asked to compare and describe the change in their skills and knowledge from when they started their first year at the University of Kentucky. These skills identified here match much of what our seniors typically indicate on the NSSE surveys, that is, UK has helped them to present themselves more effectively, to think critically and analytically, and to “understand the world from a a variety of viewpoints.” However, they felt thay had made no (or only slight) progress since their first year at UK in appreciating the arts, using foreign languages, using statistics or math in solving problems, or in “understanding methods and applying principles of reasoning in the natural sciences.” Other critical skills needed for the workplace in today’s knowledge economy, such as “using computers and information technology” or “working cooperatively in a group,” received some relatively high marks in their self-assessment of progress at UK.
For those students who took more than four years to complete their degree, the vast majority indicated that changing majors added to their requirements. The next highest reason for not graduating in four years was that “work obligations limited my enrollment.”
Academic advisors should be proud of the survey responses this year: students indicated that they clearly understood “why USP courses are required” and how the various requirements fit together. The seniors said that they strongly agreed that their academic advisors were accessible when they needed help. Faculty should also be happy since their graduating seniors strongly agreed that their faculty were knowledgeable in their subject matter, were accessible outside of the classroom and treated them with respect. In fact the “quality of instruction by faculty in major” gained the highest marks of all aspects of their UK experience.
Overall, the seniors felt that their college education fulfilled their expectations and were satisfied with their UK experience. Most of them (59%) plan to go into full-time employment upon graduating, and only 26% were going on to graduate or professional school. Of those continuing their education, only 11% saw a doctorate in their future – most envisioned that the highest degree they planned to earn was a Master’s or Educational specialist degree (44%).
For complete results of the entire survey (and details by college), please go to: