student success

Using Student Satisfaction Trend Data to Consider Priorities for the Future

Julie Bryant

Associate Vice President of Retention Solutions

June 11, 2020

More than 1,400 readers have downloaded the 2019 National Student Satisfaction and Priorities Report since its release last fall. The report provides insight into student satisfaction trends over the past 10 years, highlighting where satisfaction levels have improved and declined in key areas of the student experience. This review of the past may help guide your priorities as you look to the future of serving students at your institution.

But how can you use key data points to guide planning and meaningful change on campus? I’ve put together an eight-minute video that discusses the results in the 2019 report and how campuses leaders can use these national benchmarks to positively impact student satisfaction levels with their own students. The full report provides a snapshot of student priorities prior to the pandemic and may help you think about what you want to focus on when students return to campus during the 2020-21 academic year.

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Dive into a range of student satisfaction trend data

The recording and the full report include:

  • An explanation of why student satisfaction matters.
  • A review of the core concept for identifying institutional strengths and challenges.
  • A look at overall satisfaction for students at four-year private and public institutions, community colleges, and among adult undergraduate, graduate and online learning populations.
  • Observations on key shifts over time in the factors influencing students’ decisions to enroll at various institution types.
  • Trends observed in admissions and financial aid, the academic experience, institutional support and the student experience.
  • Tips for monitoring student satisfaction trends on campus.

Of particular interest in the trends were the observations on student satisfaction with the item, Tuition paid is a worthwhile investment. Across student populations, the level of importance on this item dropped slightly, while the satisfaction levels increased by up to 7 percent for one population. Overall satisfaction perceptions are still low for this item, ranging from 44 percent at four-year private institutions up to 68 percent for online learners.

This item is a hot topic on many campuses where it is routinely identified as a challenge area by students. Is this an area of concern for your students as well? And how will students feel about tuition if they start fall 2020 in online courses or with hybrid education? This is just one example of how student satisfaction assessment can help you identify the top priorities of students and make sure those priorities are met.

If you are interested in giving further consideration to the perception of tuition value, I encourage you to register for the virtual RNL National Conference taking place July 8-9. I will be speaking on the topic “Retention Priority: Responding to the Perception of Tuition as a Worthwhile Investment.” We will take a deeper dive into the national student satisfaction data on this item and I will provide suggestions for communication opportunities along with the populations you will want to communicate with. This session will be one of more than 30 options for you on various enrollment and student success topics as part of this year’s virtual event.

Download the full report and listen to the overview

I encourage you to watch the overview of the findings and to read the full report. The data points in the report may be of interest to a variety of roles on campus including academic affairs, enrollment management, student affairs and institutional research.

You can also see samples and learn more about our suite of Satisfaction-Priorities Surveys, featuring assessments for traditional college students, adult learners, and online learners.

If you would like to learn more about how student satisfaction data can be useful for efforts on campus or how to best implement an assessment on your campus, please reach out to set up a time to talk.


About the Author

Julie Bryant of RNL

Julie L. Bryant, associate vice president of retention solutions at Ruffalo Noel Levitz, works directly with colleges and universities throughout North America in the area of satisfaction assessment. Ms Bryant is responsible for client service...

Read more about Julie's experience and expertise

Reach Julie by e-mail at Julie.Bryant@RuffaloNL.com.


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Student Success