Survey: U graduates’ experience lacking

Molly Moker

For University of Minnesota students, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.

According to the 2004 senior surveys from the Twin Cities campus and its three coordinate campuses – Crookston, Duluth and Morris – the Twin Cities campus has the lowest percent of graduated seniors who were very or moderately satisfied with their educational experience. The campus also had the highest percentage of students who were slightly, moderately or very dissatisfied.

Although the University’s percentages do not differ greatly from those of the Crookston or the Duluth campuses, it is 13 percent less than Morris for students who are very or moderately satisfied.

Chancellors of the coordinate University campuses presented the information about student satisfaction to the Board of Regents on Thursday.

University President Bob Bruininks said the numbers are not alarming.

“This is extraordinary for Morris, but this is not a low place for us to be,” Bruininks said.

Having 81 percent of the 2004 graduating class satisfied with their experiences on the Twin Cities campus is something to be proud of, he said.

More important than ranking percentages against other campuses is making sure the level of student satisfaction stays consistent over the years, Bruininks said.

He said the University has continuously improved its satisfaction marks.

Having such a large campus is something Bruininks said contributes to student dissatisfaction.

“Students value direct contact with faculty members,” he said.

The Twin Cities campus also ranked lower than its coordinating campuses in several other areas. The University has the lowest number of students graduating in four years, the fewest students who said the quality of their major courses and instructors were excellent or very good, the fewest to participate in any University club or activity and the fewest who attended an intercollegiate athletic event.

The Morris campus had a higher percentage of students take a freshman seminar, study abroad and work with a faculty member on a project than students on the Twin Cities campus.

Student Board of Regents Representative Nathan Wanderman said the Twin Cities campus needs to work on its advising programs.

Wanderman, who is a student on the Twin Cities campus, said he wants more personalized advice, something that the coordinate campuses are offering.

He liked the Morris campus’ idea of students having advisers who are faculty members in their major program.

“The Twin Cities could learn a few things from these campuses,” he said. “There could be a better effort from the (Twin Cities campus) in general.”

Bruininks said student interaction with faculty members is a “very high priority” for the University.

But, it is more important for students to have the chance to work with a faculty member on research and course work than to have them help in the advising process, he said.

All campuses had similar response rates with the senior survey. The Twin Cities’ response rate was 54 percent, Crookston’s was 49 percent, Duluth’s was 60 percent and Morris’ was 55 percent.