The Most Important Factor for Student Satisfaction
According to a recent report by Huron Consulting Group, faculty support of students is key to recent graduates feeling satisfied with their college experience. "Across the board, the survey results indicate that faculty members play the most significant role in helping graduates achieve their stated objectives. Compared to financial aid, campus services and advising, faculty member relationships are the top contributor to goal achievement" (Understanding What Matters Most in the Higher Education Experience, 2019, page. 3).
This finding is noteworthy for students engaged in the college search process, as it serves as a reminder that food services or the campus landscaping are far less important to success and satisfaction than the attitudes of the teachers at the school. I'm intentionally using the phrase "the attitudes of the teachers," rather than the educational level or expertise of the teachers. A college may have a 100% of it's full-time faculty holding a terminal degree (i.e., the highest degree that can be awarded in a specific academic or professional track). It may even have a significant number who have won prestigious awards. Yet these measures do not necessarily mean that the faculty view their role as being a helpful support to students.
I've worked at four different institutions of higher education in my career. I have experienced faculty cultures focused on scholarship or graduate programs. I have seen faculty cultures where teaching was seen as a necessary chore, and the fewer interactions a professor could have with students the better. Students graduated from these schools every year, but they did not thrive or excel there. Thankfully, I've also experienced a faculty culture where encouragement and professional mentoring were the norm. This is the type of school you want to attend. The Huron report cited above noted "three-quarters of graduates (75%) cite faculty members as top contributors to helping them achieve their educational goals." A smart prospective student will search for a college where faculty support is the norm. In next week's post, I'll suggest one way you can discover this type of supportive faculty culture.