I had a lot to say as an undergraduate student–about my college experience, my academic decisions and my personal beliefs and values, but no one ever asked. I think my feedback could have been valuable to my alma mater—and not because I had so many poignant things to contribute—but because if I, like every student, had the chance to express him or herself in arguably the most unobtrusive way (via a written survey), the university would have had a better understanding of its student body.
Maybe they could have made improvements to their course offerings; enhancements to their first-year experience programs; or gain validation that they’re doing a fantastic job of making students feel comfortable and respected on campus.
Full disclosure: I didn’t know much about student surveys (I certainly hadn’t seen one before) until I started working with CIRP. Now that I am in knee-deep in all things CIRP, I can’t understand why a college or university would not have a mechanism in place to get valuable insight about its students.
For the naysayers who might argue that students have no interest in surveys or too much going on to fill out a survey, I would say, it’s all in how it’s presented to them. Most students, when given the opportunity to voice their opinion, will. And, even though I had things on my mind as an undergraduate, I wasn’t about to walk into the dean’s office and complain, or the reverse, rave about all of the wonderful things on campus. A more anonymous option would have suited me perfectly.
Now that I am more than a decade beyond my college years, I still don’t get surveyed a lot. But, I have found other ways to get my two cents in (thanks to user-generated content & social media sites!) and it feels good.