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2012 Alumni Survey
Introduction, Methods, and Alumni Demographic Profile


This series of reports presents findings from the NC State University 2012 Alumni Survey. The online survey was conducted between January 9, 2012 and March 27, 2012. Information was gathered from alumni who received a bachelor's degree between Summer 2006 and Spring 2009. Alumni were asked about their satisfaction with their undergraduate experience, post-graduation activities, employment, further education, their preparation in and need for skills and abilities, involvement in various activities and experiences while at NC State, and their current behaviors.

This introductory report describes the survey methods and provides a demographic profile of survey respondents in comparison to the population of NC State baccalaureates. Specifically, survey respondents and alumni who graduated between Summer 2006 and Spring 2009 are compared in terms of gender, race/ethnicity 1, academic unit, graduation year, and current residence. A separate report, 2012 Alumni Survey: All Respondents, focuses on each individual topic in the Alumni Survey. Survey questions and detailed tables of responses by gender, race/ethnicity, and college are also available on the web.

Survey Methods

The survey population included alumni who graduated between Summer 2006 and Spring 2009. The final sample excluded alumni whose mailing addresses are unknown or classified as undeliverable by the U.S. Postal Service (1,173 of the 12,562 alumni, or 10.7%). Alumni in the sample were sent letters requesting they complete the 2012 Alumni Survey on the web. The personalized letters were on the letterhead of the department from which they graduated, and signed by the current head of the department. Up to six follow-up reminders, (4 emails, 1 postcard, and one letter) were sent to non-respondents. As an incentive, the initial contact letter included an NC State University Alumni magnet with the survey URL. In addition, those who participated in the survey by January 23 were entered into a drawing in which five alumni were randomly selected to each win $100. A second incentive (five $75 prizes) was offered to those who responded by February 10. Two $150 incentives were awarded to those completing the survey by March 1. When response rates were lower than expected during the final days of survey administration, a final $250 incentive was offered to one alumnus who responded between March 8-14. Each alumnus was assigned a unique ID and password that they were prompted to enter on the first page of the survey. In addition to allowing for the tracking of respondents, the unique identifiers eliminated the need to ask alumni various demographic questions that could be obtained from student data files.

After up to seven mailings, a total of 2,856 surveys were completed for a 25.1 percent response rate (2,856 out of 11,389).

Demographics of Summer 2006 - Spring 2009 Graduates, Final Sample, and Survey Respondents

The following sections compare demographic characteristics of the full population of eligible alumni, the final sample of alumni, and those who actually responded to the survey. As previously noted, 10.7 percent of the survey population of Summer 2006 through Spring 2009 graduates had unknown/undeliverable addresses, and were therefore excluded from the final sample. Analyses were performed to compare alumni with unknown/undeliverable addresses to those with deliverable addresses in terms of gender, race/ethnicity, academic unit, and year of graduation. These analyses indicate there is no gender difference in the two groups. However, African American (13.0%), Hispanic (11.6%) and Native American (11.3%) alumni were more likely than Asian (8.8%), White (8.5%) or Other (5.7%) alumni to be excluded from the survey sample due to unknown/undeliverable addresses. The percentage of alumni classified as unknown/undeliverable ranges from 8.3 percent in the College of Engineering to 13.0 percent in the College of Textiles, though there are no statistically significant differences associated with deliverability across the colleges. There is a difference in address deliverability by academic year of graduation, with alumni graduating in 2007-2008 being slightly more likely to be excluded from the sample due to unknown/undeliverable addresses (8.5% in AY06-07, 11.0% in AY07-08, and 8.6% in AY08-09). Despite these differences, the final sample closely mirrors the demographic characteristics of the population.

Those responding to the survey vary somewhat from the full population in terms of gender, race/ethnicity, and college from which they graduated, but not in terms of the year in which they graduated. The differences, however, are not great enough to imply that the survey results would be appreciably different for the full population of graduates from Summer 2006 to Spring 2009. These reports are therefore based on the assumption that the results obtained are broadly representative of the population of NC State bachelor degree recipients between Summer 2006 and Spring 2009.

Gender and Race/Ethnicity (Tables 1 and 2)

As Table 1 shows, women made up 45.4 percent of those who received bachelors degrees from NC State between 2006 and 2009, but 47.2 percent of those who responded to the 2012 Alumni Survey. Whites were more likely to respond to the survey than students of color, comprising 85.9 percent of the survey sample but only 82.1 percent of the population (see Table 2). The gender differences between respondents and non-respondents are not statistically significant, while those associated with race/ethnicity are.

Table 1: Gender of Alumni Population, Sample, and Survey Respondents
Gender Alumni Population % Sample % Survey Respondents % Response Rate
Female 5,704 45.4% 5,156 45.3% 1,348 47.2% 26.1%
Male 6,858 54.6% 6,233 54.7% 1,508 52.8% 24.2%
Total 12,562 100.0% 11,389 100.0% 2,856 100.0% 25.1%

Table 2: Race/Ethnicity of Alumni Population, Sample, and Survey Respondents
Race/Ethnicity Alumni Population % Sample % Survey Respondents % Response Rate
Asian 623 5.0% 568 5.0% 116 4.1% 20.4%
African American 1,008 8.0% 877 7.7% 182 6.4% 20.8%
Hispanic 293 2.3% 259 2.3% 57 2.0% 22.0%
Native American 71 0.6% 63 0.6% 15 0.5% 23.8%
White 10,308 82.1% 9,430 82.8% 2,453 85.9% 26.0%
Other 259 2.1% 192 1.7% 33 1.2% 17.2%
Total 12,562 100.0% 11,389 100.0% 2,856 100.0% 25.1%

Academic Unit (Table 3)

Table 3 displays variation in response rates by college. Alumni from the College of Engineering, College of Natural Resources, College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and College of Textiles are overrepresented in the survey sample, while alumni from all other units are underrepresented. The differences between respondents and non-respondents are statistically significant.

Table 3: Academic Unit of Alumni Population, Sample, and Survey Respondents
Academic Unit Alumni Population % Sample % Survey Respondents % Response Rate
Agriculture and Life Sciences 2,383 19.0% 2,166 19.0% 528 18.5% 24.4%
Design 315 2.5% 284 2.5% 63 2.2% 22.2%
Education 465 3.7% 425 3.7% 90 3.2% 21.2%
Engineering 2,688 21.4% 2,466 21.7% 693 24.3% 28.1%
Natural Resources 692 5.5% 621 5.5% 166 5.8% 26.7%
Humanities and Social Sciences 3,168 25.2% 2,852 25.0% 644 22.5% 22.6%
Physical and Mathematical Sciences 571 4.5% 515 4.5% 137 4.8% 26.6%
Textiles 384 3.1% 334 2.9% 119 4.2% 35.6%
Management 1,896 15.1% 1,726 15.2% 416 14.6% 24.1%
Total 12,562 100.0% 11,389 100.0% 2,856 100.0% 25.1%

Graduation Year (Table 4)

As Table 4 shows, there are not many differences between the 2012 Alumni Survey population and sample by graduation year. While those graduating in annual year 2006-2007 are slightly overrepresented, and those graduating in 2008-2009 are slightly underrepresented, there is no statistically significant association between graduation year and survey completion.

Table 4: Graduation Year of Alumni Population, Sample, and Survey Respondents
Academic Year Alumni Population % Sample % Survey Respondents % Response Rate
AY06-07 4,207 33.5% 3,848 33.8% 1,011 35.4% 26.3%
AY07-08 4,148 33.0% 3,694 32.4% 921 32.2% 24.9%
AY08-09 4,207 33.5% 3,847 33.8% 924 32.4% 24.0%
Total 12,562 100.0% 11,389 100.0% 2,856 100.0% 25.1%

Current Residence (Table 5)

Table 5 shows current residence for the alumni sample and survey respondents. Because the population includes alumni for whom we have no address and for whom we received returned, undeliverable mail, population figures are excluded from the following table. In addition, those with "unknown" residence who completed the survey after receiving survey announcements via e-mail are excluded. North Carolinians were slightly underrepresented among survey respondents, making up about 82 percent of the alumni sample and about 79 percent of respondents.

Table 5: Current Residence of Alumni Sample and Survey Respondents
Current Residence Sample % Survey Respondents % Response Rate
North Carolina 9,229 82.4% 2,229 78.8% 24.2%
Outside North Carolina 1,965 17.6% 599 21.2% 30.5%
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1. The term "racial/ethnic" is used throughout these reports to recognize the potentially blurred distinction between the individual terms. In application materials students were requested to identify themselves using the following categories: Caucasian, African American or Black (not of Hispanic origin), Native American Indian or Alaskan, Asian or Pacific Islander, or Hispanic (Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish origin or culture, regardless of race). For analysis purposes, these categories were collapsed into "Asian," "African American," "White," and "other minorities." (back)

For more information on the 2012 Alumni Survey contact:
Dr. Nancy Whelchel, Associate Director for Survey Research
Office of Institutional Planning and Research
Box 7002
Phone: (919) 515-4184

Posted: July, 2012

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