Are you satisfied with your college choice?

To the parents of prospective students,

As parents, we engage in a constant struggle for our children. We can’t decide if we want them to be satisfied or unsatisfied. We want them to be confident in who God created them to be, but we find ourselves occasionally imploring them to work a little harder or push themselves further. We want them to want more for themselves. Finding the appropriate balance of encouragement, accountability and self-reliance can leave even the most well-adjusted parent wondering.

Consult a dictionary for the definition of satisfaction and you’ll find the words fulfillment and contentment. What parent wouldn’t be satisfied if their student is fulfilled by their work and service? And although we may want more for our children, we want them to be content with themselves and their choices, especially their college choices.

So what does it mean for a student to be content and fulfilled by their college experience? What does it mean for them to be satisfied with their school?

The typical student has two primary concerns when they enter college: Will I be successful? Will I fit in? Each student defines success and fitting in a little differently, but it always boils down to those two questions. And it makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean, isn’t that what we want for our children? We want them to be fulfilled by their academic pursuits and content with the relationships and their contributions to the community.

Since satisfaction is highly personal, how can we say with any certainty that one college does a better job than another? Research. We are academic institutions; we do things like that. Ruffalo Noel Levitz (an educational consultant) helps colleges administer the Student Satisfaction Inventory each year. The inventory measures a number of different factors in the classroom, as well as relationships with faculty and peers, living circumstance and cost. If a college chooses to administer the Student Satisfaction Inventory to its student body, the inventory gives the college an idea of where it’s doing well and where it needs to improve.

A large amount of data can be gleaned from the inventory, but I want to draw your attention to two specific questions on the survey. The first asks students to summarize their entire college experience. The second asks, would you reenroll if you were making the decision again. Overwhelmingly students at Christian colleges affirm their college choice at a higher rate than others.

Simply put, students who attend Christian institutions are more satisfied with their choice, and if they were given the chance to make their choice over again, the majority would make the same choice they did the first time.

If that’s isn’t satisfaction, I don’t know what is.