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Straight to the Source

In order to better understand the value a St. Norbert College education brings to the table, the office of institutional effectiveness developed a survey to pick the brains of those who seem best equipped to offer their thoughts on the matter: the individuals who have experienced and paid for an education at St. Norbert.

The survey reached out to alumni who have been out of school long enough to become well-established in their careers while simultaneously targeting those who are likely still pursuing them. Of those who graduated between 1983 and 1998, more than 400 responded.

“I do think the findings are gratifying,” says President Tom Kunkel. “The satisfaction with St. Norbert was generally very high. There’s no question that the great majority of them felt like this college was definitely worth the expense to them.” 

This is evidenced, in part, by the view that their alma mater does a better job of providing value for money spent when compared with the higher education system as a whole. In this regard, 22 percent of respondents rated St. Norbert as “excellent” and 31 percent as “very good” versus 7 and 25 percent, respectively.  

But respondents were honest about the financial impact of their education on their later life. For some, college had not necessarily translated into higher-paying jobs or entry into a career that directly connected to their area of study. Others questioned the viability of financing an education at St. Norbert today knowing the price tag has continued to rise over the years. 

Like so many others across the nation, a large proportion had been significantly impacted by the expense of their education. The highest proportion of respondents – at 44 percent – had taken between six and 10 years to repay student loans (their own and their partner/spouse’s), which affected other important life decisions to a “great extent”: 74 percent had delayed marriage, 70 percent had postponed the process of starting a family, and 65 percent had altered their choice of career.

Beyond this type of hard data, Kunkel expresses his appreciation that so many alumni – roughly two-thirds of respondents – took the time to answer the open-ended questions presented within the survey. This, he says, is where the nuances are revealed that help the college determine what it’s doing particularly well and how it can work to better serve students moving forward.


Nov. 13, 2014