What are the main objectives of alumni surveys?
Alumni surveys can focus on one or more of the following subjects:
- General gathering of preferences, contact information, and current status.
- Generate insights into institutional quality improvements.
- Measure alumni experiences and satisfaction with all areas of their education – from academic experiences (quality of professors and departments) to student experiences (campus life, extracurricular activities, technology resources).
- Gauge the interest of alumni in making monetary contributions to the educational institution.
- Gather information on the interests of alumni to participate in alumni events.
- Analyze and report on data to provide statistical information for the purpose of accreditation.
Alumni Survey Methodology
The majority of alumni surveys continues to be paper surveys mailed to former students’ home or business addresses. However, with multi-mode capability of advanced survey software, surveys can be administered to include a combination of both paper and online surveys. As alumni associations continue to gather and update contact information for their alumni, the easier it is to collect email addresses for the purpose of sending email invitations to complete online alumni surveys. Offering a combination of both paper and online surveys is anideal way of reaching all alumni, from across the years.
Unfortunately, gauging response rates for alumni surveys can be difficult. Response rates are based generally on personal preferences and feelings of attachment toward an educational institution, unlike those feeling toward a business or place of employment. It can also depend upon the type of institution that the student attended: four year college vs. two year college / small private college vs. large public university; the campus environment; college life (dormitory living vs. commuter student); the attitudes of administration toward students; and continued efforts of the alumni association in making contact with alumni.Some alumni may associate negativity with the institution, pre- or post-graduation, and may no longer feel attached to the school, and may opt-out of participation in surveys.
Design and Administration
As with any survey, the success depends on many factors that impact response rates (in addition to personal preferences and feelings of attachment mentioned above).Survey design and layout, survey administration, mode of survey research, personalized letter or invitation, and timeframe in the field can all have an effect on response rates. Utilize the tools in advanced survey software to optimize the design and layout of your survey, including using question libraries with pre-developed survey questions, and interactive and engaging questions styles.
To get the most out of alumni surveys, is it important to establish survey objectives, select the most appropriate survey methodology, and develop the survey questions that will influence the most valuable feedback, in a survey design that fosters engagement. Consider every step of the survey planning process in order to optimize response rates.