Alumni survey shows shows high employment numbers, mixed feelings about some core values

March 25, 2013 | 11 a.m.

The survey, sent to three graduated classes, helps focus attention on areas that may need attention

News | Mary Polding for The Clarion

Alumni survey shows shows high employment numbers, mixed feelings about some core values

The survey explored, among other topics, alum reactions to "Reconciliation."

Results of the 2012 alumni survey were recently released, indicating surprisingly high levels of employment, but also confusion on some of Bethel’s key core values.

The survey is given to those who have been out of Bethel for one, five and 10 years. While alumni further out from graduation seem to have more interest in providing feedback, the survey revealed many positive results regarding students’ experiences post-Bethel.

Every year from June to October, several faculty members and staff develop questions and manage communications with hundreds of alumni in order to get a better understanding of how students' time at Bethel influences their professional and personal lives after college. The survey results are compiled and sent out in a report to administrators, faculty, staff and the Board of Trustees.

Typically, departments receive detailed reports of the survey results, and each group may determine if action is necessary. In the past, the Board has created various task forces to monitor issues brought forth by the alumni survey. Here, we examine a couple key findings from this year’s alumni survey, from the 2011, 2007 and 2002 graduates.

Perhaps one of the most interesting findings was the low unemployment rate. The one- and five-year alums recorded just 1 percent unemployment, and 10-year alumni were at 3.4 percent. Being the Bethel community that we are, it would only be natural for us to wonder how we stack up in comparison to other college grads, particularly to those from the University of St. Thomas.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average unemployment rate for college graduates in 2012 was 9.4 percent. The University of St. Thomas has not released its 2012 data yet, but in 2011, St. Thomas recorded an alumni unemployment rate of 4.5 percent.

According to the survey, Bethel alumni attribute a large part of their success in the job market to Bethel’s loyal faculty. One alumnus said, “People continued to push me and believe in me, and I really appreciated that about the staff at Bethel.”

While the unemployment rates showed substantial success, the alumni survey reflected a frustrating sentiment towards certain aspects of Bethel’s core values. Survey participants were asked to rank the core values in terms of how their experiences at Bethel helped them to develop in those particular areas. “Learner” and “Truth-Seeker” received consistently high ratings across alumni results, while “Reconciler” and “World-Changer” were ranked lowest, with significantly less enthusiasm.

Perhaps these results will bridge the apparent gap between the administrators' and students' views on reconciliation at Bethel, although the students’ opinions seem to remain quite inconsistent. Joel Frederickson, a Bethel psychology professor and a member of the team that works on these results, said, “Reconciliation continues to be the core value that receives the widest range of responses. Some recent alums think that Bethel focuses too much on reconciliation ... Others complain that Bethel does not do enough related to reconciliation.”

Overall, this survey presented strong feedback for Bethel’s administration and staff to examine. While it indicated areas of attention, it provided positive feedback in terms of alumni satisfaction and preparedness.

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