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Exit survey, graduating students, graduates, completing degrees, comparison, graduates and respondents, comparison of graduates and respondents, university-level responses, college-level responses, woodring college of education, college of humanities and social sciences, Huxley college, college of sciences and technology, attending graduate school, graduate school, academic program, programs, professional development, graduate study, graduate study at western, plans for the future, educational debt, debt


Executive Summary: The 2010 Exit Survey of Graduate Students Completing Degrees continues the Office of Survey Research’s (OSR) survey of Graduate students first initiated in 2009. The current survey was administered at the end of each quarter to graduate students slated to graduate that quarter. This report summarizes responses from students who graduated in Fall 2009, Winter 2010, Spring 2010, and Summer 2010. With the help of the Assistant Dean of the Graduate School, this survey was designed to elicit information on program satisfaction, the frequency and scope of academic interaction on and off campus, barriers to success, and plans for the future. OSR used a mixture of online and telephone survey methodologies and links survey results with Western’s student records thus expanding their usefulness to researchers and university decision makers. Anonymous individual-level survey responses may be shared with interested campus parties. This exit survey was administered to graduate students earning their masters degrees at the conclusion of their final enrolled quarter. Of the 329 recipients of this degree, (Fall 2009-Summer 2010) OSR received valid responses from 231 (a response rate of 70.2%). The survey was launched with an e-mail invitation to potential respondents about four weeks prior to the end of each quarter. Follow up e-mail reminders were sent approximately every four days for the subsequent two weeks. Phone call reminders were then placed to all non-respondents. The survey was then closed immediately after commencement exercises. As with any survey, readers should be concerned with sample selection bias; that is bias which arises because survey respondents are not a random selection of the population of survey recipients. While sample selection bias for Western’s graduate exit survey is mitigated through proper survey techniques and limited by a high response rate, its presence should continually be kept in mind when evaluating results. Section A of this document presents basic descriptive statistics that compares all graduates with those who responded to the survey. At the university level, these comparisons reveal the average respondent is nearly identical to the average graduate. For instance, 40% of respondents are male compared to 42% of all graduates. Nine percent of respondents are minorities as are 9% of all graduates. Similar results occur for average age (31.1 years for respondents, 31.5 years for graduates), the number of credit hours attempted (65.2 for respondents and 65.3 for graduates) and for the average graduate GPA (3.81 for respondents and 3.79 for graduates). Section B of this report presents descriptions of questions geared to understanding students’ background and their general satisfaction with their Western graduate experience. When asked their primary activity immediately prior to enrolling in a Western graduate program, students are almost evenly split between pursuing an undergraduate degree, working in a field related to their graduate program, and working in a field unrelated to their graduate program. Seventy-Two percent of students claimed that, if given the opportunity, they would “probably” or “definitely” select Western again for graduate study. Seventy-eight percent would “probably” or “definitely” recommend Western to someone considering graduate school. These satisfaction levels are almost identical with those reported on the 2009 exit survey (75% in that survey would select Western again and 78% would recommend it to someone). Sections C and D present information regarding a student’s academic program. For instance, 89% of students reported that the level of academic challenge was “very” or “extremely” important to them and 75% of students claimed they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the level of academic challenge they encountered. Ninetysix percent of students claimed the overall quality of their program was “very” or “extremely” important and 81% were satisfied with their program. Five percent of students have written a paper for publication based on their thesis and a further 23% plan to do so. The following section (E) presents information on graduate teaching assistantships and barriers to academic success. The most commonly reported barrier to academic progress was family obligations followed by course scheduling/availability. Almost two-thirds of respondents claimed the availability (or lack thereof) of faculty had no impact on their progress towards their degree. The average graduate accumulates just over $14,000 in debt from their graduate program but this average obscures the nearly one-third of students who leave Western without any additional academic debt from their program. The final section of this report (F) details future plans. One-third of respondents had received an offer of postgraduate employment; 82% of respondents had an immediate post-graduate plan involving employment. Nine percent of respondents intend to continue graduate study and of these, over four-fifths have already been admitted to a program. One benefit of the graduate exit survey is that the data is tracked by a unique student identifier which allows OSR to divide the data by school or program. OSR hopes to share this data with administrators and individuals who hope to improve their programs.




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)--Bellingham--Attitudes

Title of Series

Technical and research reports (Western Washington University. Office of Survey Research) ; 2010-04






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