And the survey says…

By Lauren Kelly

Results from the latest student satisfaction survey that was conducted in spring 2009 indicate that Columbia has improved in 10 of the 12 categories that students were polled in since the previous survey was conducted in 2007. The Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory is a national survey conducted every other year.

This is an impressive result that deserves recognition. Overall, students were more pleased with their experiences at Columbia in categories such as campus climate, safety and security and registration effectiveness. Students were also increasingly satisfied with the level of instructional effectiveness, responsiveness to diverse populations, campus support services and campus life than they had been in previous years.

The results were also compared to Columbia’s peer colleges, such as Loyola University, Roosevelt University and the Illinois Institute of Art. Compared with those institutions, students at Columbia are more satisfied with their college experience, according to the survey.

This is a notable achievement and suggests Columbia now ranks as equal or superior to its peer group of urban institutions.

The two categories that did not improve were satisfaction with financial aid and academic advising.

Since the survey was conducted last spring, the college has made changes to the academic advising model. Columbia has instituted a new system for incoming freshman and new transfer students. The new system gives students a personal faculty adviser and increases communication between advisers and students. It is clearer, more consistent and seems as if it will benefit students more than the previous system.

Just as the college improved the model for academic advising, it should now address the organization and effectiveness of the Student Financial Services office. Although Columbia has worked to provide greater financial aid availability and has increased scholarship opportunities, its effectiveness in assisting students, as well as the organization and level of service in the office remain inadequate, according to student reports.

The fact that Columbia conducts these surveys is beneficial for the entire college. The results give administrators an idea of what students would like to see improved on campus, and the college should see them as a call to action. Columbia should now work to enhance the remaining area that students are dissatisfied with—Student Financial Services.