Gallup releases alumni survey on value of UNC System education

UNC System Interim President Bill Roper said the Gallup survey results “show that our alumni are more engaged, better prepared and lead more purposeful lives compared to the average college graduate.”

Bill Roper gives a speech
Interim UNC System President, Dr. William Roper, speaks to the media during a break in the UNC Board of Trustees full board meeting held Tuesday January 31, 2019 at the Carolina Inn. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Survey includes responses from 77,695 alumni from all 16 public universities in North Carolina

The results of a far-reaching alumni survey that provides a first-of-its-kind look at how graduates from North Carolina’s public universities fare after graduation were released by the University of North Carolina System.

The Alumni Outcomes Survey was developed in response to the UNC System’s Strategic Plan, which called on the system to collect data on graduate success in post-college life and the link between those outcomes and their undergraduate experience. The questionnaire assessed graduates’ perceptions of their individual university experiences and how those perceptions related to their wellbeing, engagement in the workplace and quality of life years after completing their degrees. Gallup presented the results to the UNC Board of Governors during its regular meeting May 21.

Key findings of the survey include:

  • A majority of UNC System alumni (64%) strongly agreed that their undergraduate education was worth the cost; this is more than 10 percentage points above all national comparison groups;
  • 71% of UNC System alumni surveyed strongly agreed that they had a professor in college who ‘made me excited about learning’ compared to 61% of respondents from public institutions nationally;
  • UNC System alumni are more likely to have pursued advanced degrees; about half of UNC System graduates (49%) who responded to the survey completed postgraduate degrees, far outpacing national comparison groups;
  • UNC System alumni surveyed are more likely to recommend and feel a strong sense of attachment to their alma mater than the national sample of graduates from public universities;
  • Overall, UNC System alumni surveyed showed higher levels of engagement in the workplace than undergraduate alumni nationally; and
  • UNC System alumni reported higher wellbeing compared to national groups; this holds true across all five areas for measuring wellbeing (purpose, social, financial, community and physical).

Bill Roper


“We were hoping to confirm through data what we have believed for some time — that our alumni have expanded opportunities and a better quality of life as a result of their UNC System education,” said UNC System Interim President Bill Roper. “The results show that our alumni are more engaged, better prepared and lead more purposeful lives compared to the average college graduate.”

The Gallup Alumni Outcomes Survey was conducted by email from November 2018 to Feb. 1, 2019, and targeted alumni of the 16 UNC System universities who graduated with bachelor’s degrees between 1940 and 2018 and had active email addresses. In all, 77,695 undergraduate alumni responded to the survey, which translates to a 10% response rate.

Results from the survey were compared with three groups from Gallup’s national alumni surveys of those who obtained their degrees between 1940 and 2016. UNC System alumni were compared to Gallup’s samples of U.S. college graduates nationally, graduates of public institutions and graduates of private institutions.

“We are very pleased with the overall participation and the findings of this survey,” UNC Board of Governors Chairman Harry Smith said. “The ultimate test of the education our universities provide is how well it prepares graduates for a successful career and fulfilling life. The survey results help to confirm the extraordinary value a UNC System education can provide, as well as how much the college experience means to those who complete it.”

The complete report and results of this survey can be accessed online now.