Marlboro College

Communities Alumni survey substantiates positive image

Nearly half of undergraduate alumni report learning about Marlboro through “word of mouth,” and 65 percent of graduate program alumni report the same. That’s just one of the many valuable data resulting from a recent alumni survey of both populations, as well as an indicator of the importance of such a survey. If prospective students are learning about Marlboro from its alumni, what are they hearing? 

The 2012 study of Marlboro undergraduate and graduate alumni was conducted by Bowen Marketing Consultants of Concord, Massachusetts, based on a short online survey sent to 1519 undergraduate and 419 graduate alumni. The survey was similar to ones by Bowen in 2007 and 2002, allowing the illumination of recent trends as well as the inclusion of graduate alumni data. A total of 563 completed the survey, 440 undergraduate alumni and 123 graduate alumni, for an admirable response rate of 29 percent.

Alumni were asked about their employment status, perceptions of the Marlboro experience, the value of their education, and other related questions. It came as little surprise that, overall, most alumni felt very positively about Marlboro and were satisfied with their academic and social experiences at the college. They expressed that Marlboro contributed to their successful careers: Half of all employed undergraduate alumni reported working at a job related to their area of study, while 88 percent of graduate alumni reported doing so. 

Those undergraduate alumni who went on to further education (an impressive 75 percent) noted that they felt prepared for success in graduate school. Alumni reported attending 278 different colleges, universities, and training programs, with the 10 most frequently attended being Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Antioch University, Boston University, University of Massachusetts, University of Vermont, State University of New York, University of California and Marlboro College.

In particular, undergraduate alumni praised Marlboro’s faculty and staff, the quality of education they received and the opportunity to develop outstanding writing, critical thinking, research and independent learning skills. They valued the small class sizes they experienced and the strong sense of community, which most alumni (93 percent) viewed as a factor that distinguishes Marlboro.

There were very few negative comments, although graduates since 2005 gave lower ratings for self-governance and Town Meeting than older alumni. Another interesting change reflected by recent graduates is that 27 percent listed “challenge” as a reason for rating the academic experience at Marlboro, as opposed to 12 percent of alumni from before 2005. 

Alumni of Marlboro’s graduate programs also had good things to say about the quality of faculty and the quality of the education they received. They appreciated the convenient schedule of graduate programs, the useful programs and the valuable connections they made. Most graduate alumni use the skills they learned in daily work and feel that their degree was relevant to their current job.

Perhaps an indication of the pedagogical strengths (see Potash Hill, Summer 2012) shared by the undergraduate and graduate programs at Marlboro, the most common occupation listed by both alumni is “teacher/professor/educator” (24 percent and 25 percent, respectively). The second most common occupations were writer (5 percent) for undergraduate alumni and web designer/developer (13 percent) for graduate alumni.

These are just some of the most significant findings of the alumni survey, which will be used to help communicate best with alumni and garner their support in Marlboro’s continued success.