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NCU Graduates Thriving,
According to New Gallup Study
Challenging Curriculum, One-to-One Learning Model and Teaching Through Engagement Play a Role

Written by Judy Tierney

When it comes to purpose, social, financial, community and physical well-being – five measures of a life well lived – NCU alumni are flourishing. That’s according to a report from the Strada-Gallup Alumni Survey, the first study to evaluate the long-term success of graduates in their pursuit of great jobs and great lives. NCU alumni also indicate a high level of engagement in their communities and economies and a positive experience about their time at NCU.

Dr. David Harpool Dr. David Harpool

Insights like these help higher education leaders make meaningful performance improvements and better understand the achievements and challenges their alumni encounter.

“Gallup’s reputation and quality of work is unsurpassed in the research world,” says NCU President Dr. David Harpool. “We’ve always been confident in the quality of degrees NCU offers, but I’m pleased that the value of an NCU degree has now been confirmed by such a reputable third party.”

More than 2,100 NCU alumni who graduated between 2008 and 2017 with master’s and/or doctoral degrees participated in the study. Their responses were compared to those of three similar populations from the Strada-Gallup national graduate database of alumni: graduates who completed at least half of their classes online, research doctoral professionals and Western Association of Schools and Colleges-accredited schools.

“We’ve always been confident in the quality of degrees NCU offers, but I’m pleased that the value of an NCU degree has now been confirmed by such a reputable third party.”

—Dr. David Harpool

NCU is Strong in All Well-Being Aspects
Gallup categorizes individuals as “thriving,” “struggling” or “suffering” in each element, according to how they respond to the questions that relate to that particular facet of their well-being. Seventeen percent of NCU alumni are thriving in all five elements – and at levels that are at least six percentage points higher than their peer groups that attended other institutions.

Of the five elements, “purpose” is the one most NCU graduates rate the highest. Sixty-four percent indicate that they do something they enjoy every day, whether it is working in a traditional organizational setting or engaging in an activity that helps shape their identity.

According to Gallup, “purpose” is particularly important because it has a disproportionate impact on one’s overall well-being – for better or worse. For NCU, the high “purpose” score positively impacted the overall score.

NCU Alumni Are Actively Engaged in Their Jobs and Their Communities
NCU’s mission is to help students achieve academically and become valuable contributors to their communities and within their professions. Almost all of NCU’s respondents are working in fields related to their area of study, and results show that alumni are highly engaged at work by at least eight percentage points higher than comparison groups.

“Workplace engagement is more than simple job satisfaction,” says Dr. Harpool. “It’s about intellectual and emotional connection to their organizations because they have the opportunity to do interesting work with people who care about their development.”

Further, almost 80 percent of NCU alumni say they volunteer or participate in public service since graduating. Not surprisingly, the majority of NCU graduates provide teaching, training or mentoring to adults, while 42 percent provide this type of mentorship to children. One-to-one mentorship – a teaching approach through which students are paired with one faculty member in each course – is one of NCU’s unique value propositions.

Alumni Give High Marks to the NCU Learning Environment
Overall, 41 percent of NCU alumni say that their alma mater was the “perfect place for someone like me,” a full five percent higher than in the comparison groups. Even more important are specific metrics related to NCU’s academic rigor and one-to-one learning model.

“We believe the higher percentage among more recent graduates is a reflection of the academic enhancements we continue to make across all of our degree programs.”

—Dr. John LaNear

Dr. John LaNear Dr. John LaNear

More than half of NCU alumni say they were challenged academically by the University’s online curriculum, higher than the percentage of all comparison groups.

“We are proud that 57 percent of respondents who graduated between 2014 and 2017 and 48 percent of those who graduated prior to that time strongly agree they were challenged academically,” notes Dr. John LaNear, NCU Provost and Chief Academic Officer. “We believe the higher percentage among more recent graduates is a reflection of the academic enhancements we continue to make across all of our degree programs.”

Changes to the one-to-one model over the past several years – including a shift from “teaching through feedback” to “teaching through engagement” – also seem to be a contributing factor. While 45 percent of NCU graduates say the one-to-one model was a major reason they chose to attend NCU, nearly 90 percent say it was effective in their overall educational experience. Again, positive responses among recent graduates are even higher, indicating continuous improvement from the changes NCU has initiated.

“Now all of our faculty members actively engage their students through our one-to-one model, to guide their students through the disciplinary content as they mentor them through their academic journey,” says Dr. Harpool. “The study tells us that students who found the model effective or very effective are nearly seven and a half times more likely to recommend NCU to their family and friends. That’s a finding that suggests we’re on the right track.”

Read the complete NCU Gallup study at www.ncu.edu/gallup.