As a career development professional or member of your school’s institutional research office, you may already be familiar with some of these tips, but you also likely know that it can be difficult to engage recent grads and receive 100% knowledge rates on student outcomes data. Here are a few tricks to maximize your student response rates.  

  1. Gain Institutional SupportHelp other departments and administrators see the value of the data you’re collecting. Motivate them to help you spread the word and encourage students to respond.  
  2. Simplify Survey DesignLess is more. Be thoughtful with module and question choices. The longer the survey, the less likely students will make it to the end. 
  3. Separate Cohorts: For the most accurate results, administer separate surveys with the same or similar question sets for students grouped by their graduation dates. One survey for all your summer, spring, and fall graduates muddles your data.
  4. Promote On-Campus & via Social Media: Familiarize students with the survey and process before asking them to do anything. Encourage them to respond for the next year and emphasize the importance of their response. 
  5. Send Multiple Emails: Schools who use multiple scheduled emails tend to have a higher response rate. Create at least 5 scheduled emails spaced out prior to graduation, at graduation, then 3, 6, and 12-months after graduation, to maximize responses. 
  6. Customize Emails: If participants feel they are being asked directly, they are more likely to respond. Customize email templates to target your graduates.  
  7. Launch Prior to Graduation: Launch your survey while students are still on campus, still invested in your school, and still using .edu emails.  
  8. Offer Incentives: Offering prizes and giveaways for survey completers on campus boosts response rates. 
  9. Utilize Graduation Events: Tie the survey with graduation events. Require turn-in completion page for Cap & Gown and commencement ticket. Or have a computer bank at the graduation fair so students can complete the survey in-person. 
  10. Update Personal Emails: Update .edu emails to recently gathered personal emails to maintain contact once grads have left campus. 
  11. Update Student Data: Remove non-grads and add late applicants to improve the quality of your data. 
  12. Reach Out to Non-Responders: Occasionally contact graduates to respond or update their responses through mass email, text messaging, or other outreach tools. 

Need help administering your outcomes survey and collecting this critical data? Contact us for more best practice advice, solutions, and options for outsourcing this process.