Summer college tours: Take this important tool with you

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Engagement checklist can help students, parents with college search

Selecting a collegeWEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - As tens of thousands of parents and teens make the annual pilgrimage to visit college campuses in the quest for that perfect fit, Purdue University is offering a handy checklist of questions to aid in their search. While prospective students are checking out classrooms, housing and recreational spaces on their campus tours, they also should find out about student-faculty engagement, high-impact experiences and affordability.

The checklist, available for download at http://www.purdue.edu/checklist/college-planning-checklist.pdf, is based on the recently released Gallup-Purdue Index, a study of 30,000 college graduates. The study found that college graduates who have achieved great jobs and great lives were more likely to be personally engaged with a faculty member, have participated in an internship, been involved in extracurricular activities and have graduated with manageable student debt. These findings held true regardless of the type of public or private non-profit, four-year institution, no matter whether highly or much less selective. It was the student experience and level of engagement that made the difference – not the rankings. The full report is available at http://www.gallup.com/strategicconsulting/168791/gallup-purdue-index-inaugural-national-report.aspx.

"Our survey clearly indicated that it wasn't so much where you go to college as much as it is how you go to college - what you extract from the campus experience," said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. "It also was clear that students whom faculty had engaged and, in turn, took the initiative to engage with faculty, were more likely to experience higher well-being and satisfaction in their work and life.

"Students and their families are making a significant investment in college, and it should be done with eyes wide open. This checklist is a way to help families take an active role in assessing critical affordability and engagement factors that can increase students' odds of finding great jobs and leading great lives."

The checklist offers questions to help determine how well universities engage with their students and help students select an institution where they will feel comfortable taking active roles in their education. Designed to be a supplement to more traditional college checklists, the Purdue checklist covers categories on faculty mentorship; faculty-student engagement; affordability; and available high-impact experiences outside the classroom such as internships, study abroad, extracurricular activities and volunteerism opportunities.

Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, which provided financial support through a grant to Purdue to make the Gallup-Purdue Index possible, said the checklist targets factors that go beyond simply assessing a university's amenities and campus environment.

"The Gallup-Purdue Index and this checklist help shift some of the focus from traditional 'rankings' to helping students find a relevant experience that relates to their ultimate goal: building a foundation for success and fulfillment in the workplace and in life," Merisotis said.

About Gallup-Purdue Index:

The Gallup-Purdue Index will be released annually for the next five years to create a national benchmark. Through its partnership with Gallup, Purdue will conduct a survey of its alumni that will allow for comparisons to the national benchmark and for in-depth research specific to Purdue. Other leading institutions of higher education have made the same commitment.

The Gallup-Purdue Index provides a definitive measure of how college graduates are doing on five key dimensions of well-being: purpose, social, physical, financial and community. It will also measure their workplace engagement including things such as whether they like what they do, do what they're best at and have someone who cares about their development. In addition to the validated constructs Gallup has used to determine workplace engagement and well-being, Gallup will measure items that test the "customer" engagement of alumni, including their emotional attachment to their educational experience. The study will also include many crucial demographic items such as race, gender, household income, profession, student loan debt, whether respondents have started or plan to start a business, and whether they were first-generation college students, among other items. 

Sources:  Mitch Daniels, president@purdue.edu

Jamie Merisotis, jmerisotis@luminafoundation.org 

Related news releases:

Gallup-Purdue index releases inaugural findings of national study: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2014/Q2/gallup-purdue-index-releases-inaugural-findings-of-national-landmark-study.html 

Gallup and Purdue University partner to measure college outcomes: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2013/Q4/gallup-and-purdue-university-partner-to-measure-college-outcomes-with-landmark-study.html

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