BMCC Applicant Surveys Shed Light on How to Improve Student Experience

November 13, 2019

The BMCC Fall 2018 Applicants Surveys Report, just out from the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Analytics, sheds light on the needs and goals of applicants to and new students of Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY).

The surveys are administered by the BMCC Enrollment Management Office and Student Affairs Office. They provide a forum for individuals who register for BMCC but do not enroll, as well as for those who become new BMCC students.

“We began surveying students in Fall of 2016 and have been surveying students every fall and spring since,” says Vice President for Enrollment Management Diane Walleser. “This gives us comparative data and we are able to see if we are making progress in better serving students.”

By focusing on students who are accepted to BMCC but do not follow up by starting classes, the survey helps explain “why some students are not choosing us as an option,” Walleser says. “We also ask new students what they now need from us. In this fall’s survey, students said they wanted advice on career choices, help with study skills and help with financial aid.”

Student feedback informs program and enrollment process development

In this most recent survey cycle, 2,375 responses were collected from 1,324 new BMCC students and 1,051 Fall 2018 applicants who did not come to BMCC. The number of responses is 15 percent higher than in the Fall 2017 survey.

The survey asked students to identify which aspects of the application and registration process could be improved, and their responses included applying for financial aid, registering for classes, submitting supporting documents such as transcripts and test scores, getting advised, placement testing, activating a CUNYFirst account and more.

“Students are at the heart of all the work we do,” says Walleser. “In designing programs and services for them, we need to understand what is important to them and check in with them to see how we are doing. This past fall, we made some significant changes in our registration process. The survey results scores improved in the categories of registering for classes, orientation sessions and activating their CUNY account.”

Making the connection between student feedback and program development at the college isn’t a simple step.

“The survey continues to show that applying for financial aid and getting advising are our applicants biggest challenges. These have been difficult numbers to budge,” says Walleser. “We know getting financial aid is a complex process and understand why students find it difficult. Advising is challenging to break down since applicants ‘get advice’ at many steps of the intake process and it is hard to pinpoint where the exact challenges are. The ratings in these areas keep us focused on trying to improve the process in these areas.”

Open-ended responses bring up important issues

The survey also includes open-ended responses from applicants and new students, some that can grouped together and others that are more unique, such as, “I would like to know how I can try out for the girls’ soccer team,” and the desire for “support services for older students/people starting second careers or changing careers.”

As for insight into why students apply to BMCC in the first place, responses include majors and career programs offered, location, affordability, special programs, recommendation from a family member or friend and diversity of the student population.

The BMCC Enrollment Management Office and Student Affairs Office will continue to distribute online surveys to BMCC applicants, and make improvements to the experience of new and onboarding students. The BMCC Fall Applicants Surveys Report, Fall 2018 can be read onlinein its entirety. The Student Hubpage on the BMCC website has extensive information for new students, from details on academic programs, registration, financial services, student leadership groups and more.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Since 2016, the BMCC Enrollment Management Office and Student Affairs Office have distributed online surveys to all BMCC applicants
  • This includes applicants who ended up not enrolling at the college, as well as those who became new BMCC students
  • Number of applicant responses went up 15 percent from 2017 to 2018

share this story »