Survey: Graduates feel well-prepared but challenged

Published December 5, 2023

An overwhelming majority of recent graduates believe the College of Education prepares them well for jobs in education and counseling but could do more to help all students feel supported and to help them grapple with some considerable challenges. 

Those were among the key findings of the 2023 CED Exit Survey, which queried graduating students from nearly a dozen advanced degree programs at the end of the last academic year. The college received 169 responses, a 64 percent response rate — itself a major success.  

Encouragingly, the results showed most graduates believe the college is fulfilling its academic mission of “preparing teachers, counselors, administrators and community leaders to promote equity and excellence in education.” For example: 

  • 95% agreed people from all backgrounds have equitable opportunities to advance their education and/or career opportunities at the College of Education.  
  • 95% agreed that their coursework facilitated the active participation of individuals from diverse groups.  
  • 94% agreed that their coursework prepared them to connect professional standards to their practice.  
  • 96% agreed that the clinical practice experience was valuable in gaining experience in diverse settings, with diverse populations, and in receiving valuable feedback.
  • 88% felt well-prepared to find a job in their field within six months of graduation. 

At the same time, respondents said the college has room to grow when it comes to supporting all its students. For example: 

  • 7% disagreed that they felt safe and supported.
  • 8% disagreed that the CED is safe for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) students and 3% disagreed it is safe for LGBTQ students. 
  • 11% would not choose their CED program if they could start over. 

And finally, the survey revealed many students face considerable hardships and could use help meeting basic needs. For example: 

  • More than 55% faced one or more hardships in meeting basic needs during their program. 
  • 20% had no experience with CED advising and support resources, including their program advisor, mental health and wellness resources, and the CED’s online social media presence.  
  • 32% disagreed that they received adequate financial aid. 
  • 65% accrued student loan debt during their time in a CED program, with 12% accruing more than $30,000 of debt.  
  • 30% accrued credit card debt to pay for educational expenses, and 20% accrued credit card debt to pay for basic needs. 

The college received more than 30 comments requesting more resources for academics, networking and culminating activities.

The online survey was conducted by the College of Education’s Assessment and Accreditation Office (AAO), which collects, analyzes and reports data for continuous improvement of college programs.  

The AAO has disseminated the findings to a wide range of stakeholder groups including college leadership, faculty, staff, students and the broader community, a first for the CED Exit Survey. Doing so promotes data-informed decision-making, continuous program-improvement and equity for student success, said AAO Assistant Director Dr. Daisy D. Alfaro. 

“I am so pleased with the success of the exit survey,” said College of Education Dean Anna Ortiz. “The AAO showed tenacity and creativity to get a record number of our graduates to give us valuable feedback.  

“I’m excited that 95% of our students reported that there were equitable opportunities for students from all backgrounds in the college and that their coursework facilitated active participation of diverse individuals. Just as many agreed that they received high-quality clinical practice and that course content reflected expectations for practice. These are points of pride for college faculty and staff.” 

Most immediately, Ortiz said, the college is working to make sure everyone who interacts with students knows about the numerous resources on campus for students who are struggling financially. Next semester the college’s monthly staff and faculty meetings will focus on student success, reflecting an aspiration in its ongoing strategic planning to center students, she said.  

The 169 responses received from 2023 graduating students were a 107 percent increase over last year’s numbers. The graduating students were from a wide range of programs — 11 in all — including early childhood education, school counseling, special education, educational technology and media leadership, dual language development and student development in higher education. 

“Sharing experiences in surveys like the CED Exit Survey helps the college understand different perspectives of the program and how enriching it was,” said one participant, Mario Jaramillo, who graduated with an educational specialist degree from the School Psychology program.  

“By sharing my view, the college gains insight into how the program has provided extensive training and knowledge relevant to the field of school psychology, what worked for me, what may require more attention, and what changes can be made to benefit future students.” 

The results came in too late to help those who were surveyed since they have already graduated, Alfaro said. So, to reveal and address in real time the challenges students face, the office has introduced the CED Pulse Survey, a quick three-minute, seven-question survey to be taken each semester. 

The office is also expanding participation in the CED Exit Survey to students in all credential programs “driven by a strong interest expressed by CED leadership and stakeholders to gain a comprehensive understanding of all our students experiences,” Alfaro said. 

It will also incorporate a focus group as a follow-up to the survey “to increase the inclusion of diverse perspectives and lived experience in our findings,” she said.

A graphic summarizing the findings of the 2023 CED exit survey. Most content is in the body of the story.