Portland State University
Research Update Office of Institutional Research and Planning
Volume 1, Issue 3 Spring/Summer 1998
This report summarizes information gathered from Portland State Universityís Non-Returning Student Survey and Survey of Graduates. The Non-Returning Student Surveys were conducted in the Spring of 1993, 1994, and 1996. The Graduate Surveys were conducted in the Spring of 1995 and 1996. Both surveys give insight into the current attrition and retention rates at PSU by examining the reasons why students chose to leave or continue their education at PSU. As well, the Survey of Graduates gives students the opportunity to explain the reasons why they chose PSU and to reflect upon what they have gained from their experiences. For further information regarding the surveys, contact Kathi A. Ketcheson, Director, Office of Institutional Research and Planning, (503) 725-3425.
Non-Returning Student Survey: 1993, 1994, and 1996 Surveys were sent to students who enrolled in classes during Fall Term but did not enroll in the following Spring or Fall Term; the 1996 survey was sent to those students who did not return Spring Term. In 1993, surveys were sent to 485 non-returning students; 178 replied for a response rate of 37%. The response rate decreased to 27% (107 out of 394) in 1994, and 22% (98 out of 439) in 1996.
Who Are the Non-Returning Students? The students who responded to the Non-Returning Student Surveys share similar characteristics. Most were Oregon residents (87% in 1993 and 84% in 1994) and rated PSU as their first choice (78% in 1994 and 77% in 1996). Respondents indicated that their primary educational goal while at PSU was to earn a Bachelorís degree (55% in 1994 and 54% in 1996). Many of the respondents attended PSU prior to fall term for less than one term (48% in 1994 and 47% in 1996). A majority reported that they had not "stopped-out" previously (65% in 1993, 82% in 1994, and 81% in 1996). For a high percentage of students, PSU was not the first college or university they attended. While at PSU, most respondents worked in paid positions at least part-time in addition to their class schedule, and few received financial aid. A small number of respondents reported complete responsibility for the care of their children or dependents (43% in 1993, 16% in 1994, and 12% in 1996).
How Do Studentsí Rate Their Experiences at PSU? The majority of respondents lived off campus (99% in 1993, 87% in 1994, and 98% in 1996) and did not participate in special events, student organizations, or social activities offered at PSU (94% in 1993, 84% in 1994, and 85% in 1996). Students did, however, report satisfaction with campus life and opportunities for social interaction at PSU (65% in 1994 and 77% in 1996). Few respondents attended the New Student Orientation Program at PSU (2% in 1993, 43% in 1994, and 37% in 1996). There was an increase, however, in the number attending orientation since 1993. Many students reported that academic performance and finances were their top concerns while at PSU. Overall, respondents found faculty and staff to be supportive.
What Are Non-Returning Students Doing Now? After leaving PSU, non-returning students continued their education at another school, looked for a job, or worked full-time or part-time. Of those who enrolled in another school, most attended a community college or a public college or university either in the Portland area or in Oregon (76% in 1994 and 38% in 1996). However, a majority of respondents reported that PSU offered the courses or programs needed to achieve their long range career goals (66% in 1993, 60% in 1994, and 61% in 1996). The survey conducted in 1996 revealed that those respondents who did not return to an educational setting either worked full-time (69%), part-time (9%), looked for a job (7%), took care of their home (7%), traveled (6%) or served in the military (2%). The findings were similar in the 1993 and 1994 surveys.
What Contributes to Decisions Not to Re-Enroll After Fall Term? Several factors contributed to studentsí decisions to not re-enroll in classes at PSU. For some, PSU did not meet their expectations, while others noted finances, plans to transfer to another university, or personal responsibilities as reasons for not returning to PSU.
Respondents from the three surveys consistently reported similar factors contributing to their decision to not return to PSU. Twenty-two factors were presented to the respondents and evaluated by their level of importance. In the 1996 survey, most students identified the following three factors: personal responsibilities (56%), cost (43%), and finances (41%). The qualitative data supported the importance of these factors. Comments revealed that the primary reasons for deciding not to re-enroll were personal issues (74%), such as finding a job, health, transferring, and academic disqualification.
Survey of Graduates: 1995 and 1996 The Survey of Graduates was administered to 93-94 and 94-95 PSU Bachelorís, Masterís, and Doctoral degree recipients in the Spring of 1995 and 1996, respectively. The response rate for the 1995 survey was 40% (969 out of 2,392), with a slight increase in 1996 to 42% (1,026 out of 2,609).
Who Are PSUís Graduates? Of those who responded to the surveys, 60% were Bachelor degree recipients and 40% were Masterís, Doctoral, or professional degree recipients. Most respondents from 1995 and 1996 attended PSU from 3-4 years (44% in 1995 and 46% in 1996). A majority (73% for 1995 and 1996) attended PSU full-time. In addition, more than half of respondents from 1995 and 1996 were employed part-time while attending school (55% from 1995 and 54% from 1996). Ninety percent of respondents from both 1995 and 1996 were Oregon residents.
What Were Graduatesí Reasons For Choosing PSU? Graduates were asked how they rated PSU at the time they applied for admission. In 1995, 75% of the respondents reported that PSU was their first choice, and 72% in 1996. Additionally, respondents were asked to indicate how important certain factors were in reaching their decision to attend PSU. Some of the more popular responses included the following: 83% in 1995 and 80% in 1996 rated cost as important; 95% in 1995 and 91% in 1996 rated location as important; 96% in 1995 and 88% in 1996 rated program offerings important; and 60% in 1995 and 63% in 1996 rated academic reputation as important.
How Do Graduates Rate Their Experiences at PSU? The intellectual creativity and academic quality found at PSU were important to a majority of respondents. A high percentage of respondents reported satisfaction with the quality of instruction they received at PSU (77% from 1995 and 89% from 1996). Furthermore, ninety percent of respondents from 1995 and 1996 were satisfied with the content of their courses. The academic advising provided at PSU satisfied approximately half of respondents (48% in 1995 and 52% in 1996). The level of satisfaction with academic programs increased from 40% in 1995 to 50% in 1996. Comments to both surveys indicated that satisfaction was derived from programs offered at PSU (including programs exclusively in Oregon, such as Graduate School of Social Work, Graduate Programs in Post Secondary Adult and Continuing Education, Statewide MBA, and Public Administration), or a programís curriculum and reputation. Respondents reported satisfaction with financial aid services: 74% in 1995 and 76% in 1996. Over half of respondents from both 1995 and 1996 were also satisfied with the New Student Orientation (57% in 1995 and 64% in 1996). The majority of respondents were satisfied with their experiences at PSU (90% in 1995 and 86% in 1996).
What Are PSUís Graduates Doing Now? A majority of respondents reported that after leaving PSU they engaged in full-time employment (55% in 1995 and 54% in 1996). Graduates were asked to report how closely their current occupation related to their PSU major. Fifty-two percent of respondents from 1995 and 1996 agreed that their current occupation directly related to their major. Many of the respondents reported that their current employers would rate PSU as excellent or good (76% in 1995 and 72% in 1996). Twenty-nine percent of respondents from 1995 and 30% from 1996 have continued their education since graduating from PSU. Respondents were asked if PSU offered the specific graduate program in which they were interested. The majority of respondents from 1995 and 1996 agreed that PSU did offer a graduate program of interest (56% in 1995 and 67% in 1996). According to the 1996 survey, 86% of the respondents enjoyed attending PSU and felt satisfied with their experiences at PSU. Sixty-two percent of PSU graduates rated the education they received as high or very high. Overall, these findings reveal that, through its unique characteristics of accessibility, intellectual creativity, affordability, and flexibility, PSU continues to meet its mission as an urban university, serving the community and promoting social, cultural, economic, and technological development in the Portland metropolitan area. This addition of the Portland State University Research Update was created by Kathi A. Ketcheson, Director; Lina Lu, Research Assistant; Leigh Hedrick, Graduate Research Assistant, and Gillian Lerner, Graduate Research Assistant.