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UA Annual Graduate Survey released: findings show link between support staff and success

UA Annual Graduate Survey released: findings show link between support
staff and success
An annual survey of graduates released by the University of Alaska
(UA) shows 88 percent of students surveyed were satisfied with their
education and experience at UA.
The report, conducted by the McDowell Group, measures how graduates
rate their experiences in the UA system, what they do immediately
after graduating, how well they think UA prepares them for the
workforce, and what factors contribute most to successful degree
completion. Students who graduated between Summer Semester 2011 and
Spring Semester 2012 from UA Certificate to PhD programs were invited
to participate; 1,030 responded.
Significant findings include:
Of currently-employed graduates, 72 percent reported using skills
learned at UA at least weekly.
Distance education students, a growing sector, were more likely to
report satisfaction with career preparation at UA (82 percent) than
were non-distance students (69 percent).
Seven out of ten graduates who identified specific post-graduation
career or workforce goals are currently working in their desired
fields.
Three-quarters of respondents worked during their final year of school.
Of responding participants, 55 percent participated in at least one
extracurricular activity; graduates most commonly participated in
clubs and organizations related to their major field.
Of graduates surveyed, 85 percent recognized support from UA staff,
including academic advisors, as somewhat or very important to degree
success. Academic advising has been a priority in UA’s budget request
to the legislature because of its demonstrated impact on student
retention and success.  UA’s results correlate with national data on
the impact of academic advising.
All UA campus advising programs are focusing on the critical first and
second years. “Across the country, many students enter college
underprepared. It is important for advisors and other support staff to
make meaningful connections with new students during the first few
weeks of school. Early outreach efforts should be very intentional,”
said University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) Vice Chancellor of
Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Joe Nelson.
UAS works collaboratively across departments and with faculty to
provide high-quality advising services to students. Using a
developmental advising model, UAS has initiated mandatory advising to
help more students progress through to graduation. New initiatives for
fall 2013 include using programs that integrate a number of student
success efforts, including early alerts and outreach, as well as
support to students on probation.
The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) works to identify and assist
middle and high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds and
offers services to ensure they graduate high school college ready and
successfully transition to postsecondary education. UAA is focusing
additional advising support on exploratory students with undecided
majors, leading them through a series of surveys, conversations with
academic advisors and guiding them in exploring career paths and in
selecting a major that is right for them early in their college
career. UAA Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Bruce Schultz said
that funds appropriated by the state legislature have been used to
facilitate communication between faculty and advisors to better track
and identify students early in the semester who are at risk for
attrition and low academic progress.
“We are taking a systematic approach to issues that are the most
critical. Working with at-risk first and second year students helps to
create a culture of transformative change so that the institution as a
whole can view the student experience differently than they ever have.
Beginning in fall 2013, new students will experience a dramatic
transformation of the first-year experience,” Schultz said.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks has used state funding to expand
advising services for students; provide scholarships to low-income,
first generation students; increase tutoring and academic support; and
fund additional classes for students needing supplemental instruction.
The addition of two academic advisor positions will allow UAF Student
Support Services to advise 120 additional students. The College of
Liberal Arts was able to add a staff advisor position and two
additional academic advisors positions have been funded in the
Academic Advising Center.
UAF uses a comprehensive advising model in order to increase the
success of all students, particularly at-risk baccalaureate students.
“We believe that this sort of personal connection and attention to
students, particularly when they are struggling, will lead to
increased attainment,” said UAF Vice Provost Accreditation Liaison
Officer and Dean of General Studies Alex Fitts.

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