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alumni profile, alumni characteristics, survey respondent characteristics, personal information, financial information, citizenship, service, citizenship and service, job search, current employment, employment, post-graduate education, time to degree, competencies, college entry, graduation, major satisfaction, changing major, challenges, student services, services work, military, departmental findings, human services, mathematics, philosophy, sociology, general studies


Executive Summary: Since 1990, Western’s Office of Survey Research (OSR) has surveyed alumni biennially. Alumni who are one to two years past graduation are invited to participate. They reflect on their experiences at Western, and on their current situation regarding family, education, and employment. OSR uses a mixture of online and telephone survey methodologies, then, when applicable, links survey results with Western’s student records, thus expanding their usefulness to researchers. The 2008 alumni survey was administered to graduates earning their bachelor’s degrees between the summer of 2006 and spring of 2007. Of the 3,028 eligible alumni, OSR received valid responses from 1,093 (response rate of 36%). The full survey asked questions regarding financial status, plans for postgraduate education, and issues of employment search and job characteristics. Alumni were also asked retrospective questions regarding their Western experience, including the challenges they faced, impediments to timely graduation, their level of satisfaction with Western’s student services and their satisfaction with their major. In addition, alumni were asked to rate their academic competencies when they entered Western and how they rate those same competencies now. A second report based on the same Alumni survey, entitled “Western Washington University 2008 Survey of Alumni who Graduated between Summer, 2006, and Spring, 2007, Department Report,” presents a sample of findings disaggregated by the college and department level, and may be accessed at: As with any survey, readers should be concerned with sample selection bias; that is, bias which arises because survey responders are not a random selection from the population. While sample selection bias for Western’s alumni survey has been mitigated through proper survey techniques, its presence should always be considered when evaluating data. With that said, the first tables of this report presents descriptive statistics of all alumni (based on Western’s student records) compared to alumni survey respondents for the university as a whole and for each college. These comparisons generally reveal that survey respondents are similar to the population of alumni. For instance, 58% of all graduates between summer, 2006, and spring, 2007, were women—as were 58% of alumni survey respondents. Similar comparisons can be found for minorities (all graduates=16% v. survey respondents=15%), transfers (43% v. 42%), Running Start students (9% v. 9%), and average age at graduation (24.5 v. 24.4). These figures suggest that there is little reason to believe significant sample selection bias occurs on observables. Generally speaking, this survey confirms beliefs about Western’s overall strengths and suggests areas of improvement. For instance, alumni highly commend the knowledge, expertise and teaching ability of the faculty and rate the challenge level of their courses as being very high. The 88% of alumni who are currently employed also appear highly satisfied with their job. At the same time, alumni were not as satisfied with opportunities for involvement in faculty research, department internships and departmental career advising. When asked about factors that delayed their graduation, alumni most frequently responded with “scheduling conflicts” followed by “full courses.” Nearly all data sets can have more finely honed statistical analyses—this set of Alumni Survey data included. That being said, the analyses in this report are sufficient for most of those who rely on findings to help their decision making. For help with understanding the data as presented in this report, or with delving deeper into the data, please contact OSR.




Digital object produced by Office of Survey Research, Western Washington University, and made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

College graduates--Washington (State)--Statistics

Title of Series

Technical and research reports (Western Washington University. Office of Survey Research) ; 2009-02






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