Survey evaluates students’ college experience

By Heather Mead

Last month, seniors and freshmen were asked to take a survey known as the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) in order to measure their academic and extracurricular involvement.

The survey aims to see how freshmen spend their time compared to how seniors spend theirs. Specifically, it tests whether students are engaging more in educational activities at college or in more fun activities on campus.

It also compares Olivet students to other schools across the United States.

“[The NSSE] surveys collegiate quality on a national basis,” said Beth Olney, director of the Center for Student Success and a member of the University Assessment Committee. “We are comparing ourselves to other schools.”

Senior Elizabeth Cook initially heard about NSSE via e-mail and was intrigued by the possibility of winning a prize after taking the survey. However, she said there are other upsides for doing it.

“It is a benefit for other people’s education later on,” she said.

Taylor Cole was one of the first freshmen to take part in the survey this year.

“I thought it’d be a good way to evaluate my experience here,” she said. “[People who participate] are able to give their opinion on what can be improved or done better in the future.”

The survey takes between 10 and 45 minutes to complete and asks questions about how students spend their time outside of the classroom as well as what their experiences are like inside the classroom. There are 28 questions with multiple sub-questions.

Some specific topics include how much time students spend studying, how well professors prepare for class, how Olivet helps in students’ spiritual walk and how safe students feel.

ONU does the survey every three years, though some universities do it annually.

Dr. Kuh, a researcher and speaker at Indiana University Bloomington, created NSSE in 1998. The program first started at universities in 2000. Since then, 1,452 colleges in the nation have participated.

“The more participation, the richer the data,” Olney said. “We need and want participation.”

Seniors and freshmen still have the option to take the survey. Those who respond by March 16 will have their names entered into a drawing to win $20 in Tiger Dollars.

By participating in the survey, Cole was able to look back on her one-year experience of college kindly.

“I’ve enjoyed my freshman year a lot,” she said. “I had a lot of fears going into college since it’s new and different, but Olivet helps with the transition and eases you into it.”

Cook has experienced three more years at ONU and said her experience has been great.

“Basically I came into college not knowing what to expect, but I learned a lot inside and outside the classroom and made friends for life,” she said.

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