Wake Forest University graduating seniors compared favorably to the other 95 administering institutions in nearly every construct area, most notably Habits of the Mind. As was true in 2013, eight in ten reported they would choose Wake Forest again. Also noteworthy are matters regarding race and ethnicity, where Wake seniors reported high levels of both positive and negative cross-racial interactions. Differences in experiences occurred within the graduating class when viewed by gender, racial, and socioeconomic status sub-groups.
The College Senior Survey (CSS) is a national survey directed at UCLA by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI). The CSS is useful for determining from seniors their satisfaction in a number of areas across the university, as well as how they spent their time. The CSS was first administered to Wake Forest seniors graduating in the Class of 2001 and has been administered every other year.
The CSS was distributed electronically by the Office of Institutional Research in March 2015 to all Wake Forest seniors scheduled to graduate in May and August of 2015. A total of 406 seniors submitted responses, representing 34% of the Class of 2015. The respondents were mostly representative of the senior class, with slightly fewer students reporting African American/Black and slightly more reporting Caucasian/White. Women respondents were over-represented at 61% compared to being 54% of the senior class.
WFU Compares Favorably to Nation on Item Constructs
Due to the large quantity of individual questions asked and the complexity of assessing specific areas of potential concern, HERI developed a number of constructs which group information gathered from numerous items into a more reliable, cumulative measure. These construct scores, which provide a way of looking at overall trends among survey responses, have a population mean of 50 across all administering institutions and a standard deviation of 10.
- Habits of Mind (58.2)
- Social Agency (55.8)
- Negative Cross-Racial Interaction (54.4)
- Social Self-Concept (54.3)
- Civic Engagement (54.1)
- Positive Cross-Racial Interaction (53.4)
- Academic Self-Concept (53.3)
Notably, the only construct in which Wake Forest respondents scored below 49 was Civic Awareness (45.6). This score is significantly lower than Wake Forest senior respondents in 2013 (51.5). However, this year’s seniors at WFU compared similarly to other Private Universities (45.6) on this construct. WFU differed significantly from other Private Universities in four constructs: Negative Cross-Racial Interaction (54.4 vs. 52.5), Civic Engagement (54.1 vs. 51.5), Leadership (52.6 vs. 50.4), and Faculty Interaction: Mentorship (52.1 vs. 51.1)
Additional construct scores which trended negatively between WFU 2015 and WFU 2013 included increased scores in Negative Cross-Racial Interaction (54.4 vs. 52.3) and Social Agency (55.8 vs. 54.1) and decreased scores in Satisfaction with Coursework (51.5 vs.53.2).
Within Wake Forest’s 2015 graduating senior respondents, males scored higher on Academic Self-Concept (55.9 vs. 51.7) and Negative Cross-Racial Interaction (56.3 vs. 53.3). Men also scored slightly higher on Pluralistic Orientation (53.3 vs. 51.6) and lower on Social Agency (54.6 vs. 56.6) and Civic Engagement (53.4 vs. 54.6).
Considering White in comparison with All other races within WFU 2015, there are significant differences in all but two constructs (Social Self-Concept and Leadership). Most importantly are the constructs with a medium effect size, which include higher scores for White students in Overall Satisfaction (53.2 vs. 48.5) and Sense of Belonging (51.1 vs.46.1), but lower in Negative Cross-Racial Interaction (53.6 vs. 58.3).
Comparing WFU 2015 borrowers of money to fund their education versus non-borrowers, there are four significant differences. Borrowers reported higher scores in Positive Cross-Racial Interaction (55.2 vs. 52.3), Pluralistic Orientation (53.0 vs. 51.6), Social Agency (58.3 vs. 54.7) and Civic Engagement (56.1 vs. 53.4).
Individual Items of Note
Although less reliable than constructs, individual questions provide a closer look at notable changes within Wake Forest. Numerous items showed increasing involvement of seniors at Wake in areas of diversity, academic pursuits, and professional growth, while there was a simultaneous increase in dissatisfaction primarily with the campus community.
Items of Positive Movement at Wake
- Attendance of racial/cultural awareness workshops
- Joined a social fraternity or sorority
- Increased percentage reporting did not borrow money to help pay for college expenses
Items of Negative Movement at Wake
- Decreased time spent in prayer/meditation and attending religious services
- Increased agreement there is a lot of racial tension on this campus
More Wake Seniors compared to Private University Seniors reported to have:
- Frequently contributed to class discussions
- Helped raise money for a cause or campaign
- Taken an ethnic studies course and/or women’s studies course
- Joined a social fraternity or sorority
- Played club, intramural, or recreational sports
- Spent 11 or more hours per week studying or doing homework
- Frequently drink wine or liquor
- Attended a racial/cultural awareness workshop
- Been a leader in an organization
- Participated in study abroad
- Voted in national, state, or local election
- Been satisfied with amount of faculty contact
Fewer Wake Seniors compared to Private University Seniors reported:
- To have fallen asleep in class
- To have worked (for pay) off campus
- To have been satisfied with student housing
- To have borrowed money for college
In addition to HERI survey questions, WFU has added a number of custom questions to the survey over the years. Trends from these items included a rise in mentoring experience being very significant, while fewer seniors viewed their study abroad experience being a very significant part of their education.