Eighty-six percent of Boston College students would recommend BC to others and 75 percent would choose to go to BC again, according to data from the Student Experience Survey, released today by the Office of Institutional Research, Planning & Assessment. The survey—administered online from October through December of 2018—revealed, however, that more needs to be done to make students of color, low-income students, and LGBTQ students feel more welcome within the University community.
Sponsored by Student Affairs, University Mission and Ministry, and the Office of the Provost, and designed by a University-wide team of students, faculty and administrators, the survey was created to gain a better understanding of the BC student experience both inside and outside of the classroom, by examining students’ views on University mission, academics, student services, culture, and community. It yielded a 26 percent overall response rate, based on the participation of 2,417 BC students.
Among its key findings, the survey revealed that more than 75 percent of BC students agree or strongly agree that they have developed a stronger sense of purpose since arriving at Boston College, and 79 percent have developed a better understanding of the distinctiveness of a Jesuit education.
Nearly nine in 10 BC students surveyed agree or strongly agree that they are generally satisfied with the quality of teaching, and 93 percent agree that they are challenged intellectually by BC’s academic program. Overall, nearly 400 students identified faculty, academics, or the intellectual climate as an element they value most about Boston College.
In addition, students expressed satisfaction with many BC programs, including career, health, counseling, and financial aid services, but expressed overall dissatisfaction with the housing lottery and lack of food options on campus.
While students positively rated their overall experience at BC, 94 percent agree or strongly agree that Boston College is a competitive environment, with most students stating that they experience academic and social pressures on campus.
According to the survey, 90 percent of Boston College students said they were treated fairly by others at BC, and 82 percent felt a strong sense of belonging to the BC community. However, students with high financial need rated these items less favorably than others, and students who identified as black or African American rated the campus environment as less welcoming than the overall student population. About half of the respondents said they had experienced some degree of unfair treatment this past year, based on sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, country of origin, disability, or religion.
Ninety five percent of students agree or strongly agree that diversity is important to them, with 70 percent agreeing that their courses included “diverse perspectives,” and 62 percent agreeing that the BC community welcomes open discussions about “issues of difference.” Black or African American students overall, however, were less likely to agree with these findings.
The majority of students who responded to the survey reported that they had meaningful discussions at BC with people of a different socio-economic status, race/ethnicity, or religious background “often or very often.” However, students expressed a desire for more inclusive and integrative space and programming at Boston College, as well as a desire for more opportunities to engage with diverse people and perspectives.
“The results of this survey reveal a positive experience for the majority of BC undergraduates, with students expressing overwhelming satisfaction with the quality of teaching and their ability to develop a stronger sense of purpose through reflection opportunities and engagement in retreats and community service,” said Kelli Armstrong, vice president for planning and assessment.
“Most students also report a strong sense of belonging, and would recommend Boston College to others, which are both strong indicators of a positive overall experience.
“However, the survey also provides indications of areas where BC can improve the student experience for particular populations, with AHANA, LGBTQ, or high financial need students generally responding less favorably, especially around issues of inclusivity and a sense of belonging, said Armstrong.”
Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Joy Moore said that while the survey reveals much positive news about the student experience at Boston College, much remains to be done to make BC meet its high standards as a welcoming community.
“Our plan is to take the survey findings and work with the Diversity Steering Committee, other senior administrators, and students to formulate ways to enhance our strengths and address our shortcomings,” said Moore. “I am looking forward to being a part of that process to help create a more welcoming and inclusive University community where everyone has a sense of belonging.”
A summary of the Student Experience Survey is available at bc.edu/studentsurvey.