Executive Summary: Every other year the Office of Survey Research (OSR) contacts recently graduated Western students to inquire into their current activities and ask for their retrospective thoughts on their Western experience. In the spring of 2012 we surveyed alumni who completed their undergraduate degrees between summer, 2010 and spring, 2011. This report details the questions asked on that survey and summarizes responses for the university and by college and department. Initially, OSR solicited responses using e-mail contacts. These were initiated in July, 2012. Nonrespondents received two additional requests and then OSR contacted non-respondents by telephone to request their participation. Of the 2,975 students who graduated between summer, 2010 and spring, 2011, OSR received valid responses from 695 students, a response rate of 23.3%. This report contains summaries of questions that deal with satisfaction with Western’s contribution to academic skills, alumni’s current activities, their financial situation including earnings and educational debt, and the contribution of internships and leadership roles towards the alumni’s current situation. In addition, this survey included questions submitted by various departments on campus. We look forward to serving your needs by including your questions in the future. As with any survey, readers should be concerned about sample selection bias; that is bias which arises because survey respondents are not a random selection from the population of survey recipients. While sample selection bias in this survey is mitigated by proper survey techniques and a high response rate, its presence should be considered when evaluating the data. Section A presents basic demographic and academic statistics of the respondents and non-respondents. As found in the general literature on surveys, women were more likely to complete the survey than men (58.1% of respondents were women whereas 57% of alumni are women). Respondents were more likely to be white (82.9% v. 77.5%), earned a higher WWU GPA (3.26 v. 3.16), and were less likely to be a transfer student (31.7% v. 37%). Respondents were also more likely to graduate in the spring of 2011 (59.6% v. 54.3%) suggesting that the survey results are more representative of more recent graduates. On the other hand, respondents and non-respondents were similar in their ages, time-to-degree, credits earned on campus, and participation in an off-campus academic program. Section B of this report contains university-level summary statistics of each question asked. These data are then disaggregated by college in Section C and then by department in Sections D through I. While OSR leaves it to the reader to decide what is interesting in this report, here we highlight a few findings that the wider campus may find interesting. When asked about their current principal activity, 55% of alumni responded that they were currently employed full-time. An additiona1 16% indicated that they were working part-time and 12% indicated they were attending graduate or professional school. Other activities included volunteer activities, traveling, additional undergraduate coursework, and starting a family. Among those with jobs, 83% are working in Washington State; the next most common state to work in was California. About one-quarter of respondents received a job offer leading to their current job while still attending Western; the remainder were evenly split between getting a job within three months of graduating, three to six months of graduating, and more than six months after graduating. Forty-one percent of working alumni say their job is in the same field in which they majored while at Western, and another 26% are working in a related field. Nearly one-half of working alumni learned about their current job through personal contacts; 24% learned of it through online job sites while 5% learned of it through the activities of Western’s Career Services Center. The average total annual salary of full-time working alumni in this survey is $37,886. Among the students in graduate or professional school, 87% claim that Western “well” or “very well” prepared them for their current studies. Eighty-three percent of students are studying in the same or related field as their major. We also asked these students the names of the institution and degree program they are pursuing, and can provide these responses to the campus community upon request. Respondents report an average of $14,272 in outstanding educational debt; a number slightly higher than the average debt claimed by respondents to the spring quarter 2011 exit survey. This difference may be due to a number of factors including the ability of students to take on additional debt for continued studies after graduating from Western. Nearly two-thirds of respondents claimed their education debt impacted their job choices, educational goals and where they are currently living. One feature of all of OSR’s student surveys is that they can be tracked by their W number providing the opportunity to merge our data with other university sources. This ability opens the door to longitudinal analysis. OSR is happy to share or provide support for this data upon request.
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Subjects - Topical (LCSH)
College graduates--Washington (State)--Bellingham--Longitudinal studies
Subjects - Names (LCNAF)
Western Washington University--Alumni and alumnae--Longitudinal studies; Western Washington University--Alumni and alumnae--Attitudes
Title of Series
Technical and research reports (Western Washington University. Office of Survey Research) ; 2013-02
Krieg, John M.; Hartsoch, Beth; Clark, Linda D. (Linda Darlene); and Felt, Peter, "WELS 2012 Survey of Alumni Who Graduated Summer 2010 Through Spring 2011 Descriptive Statistics" (2013). Office of Survey Research. 530.