Let's face it. When you want to know the truth about a product or service, nothing beats a great recommendation from someone you know.
No amount of research. No slick website. No smooth-talking sales person.
In fact, according to a study conducted by the survey experts at Nielsen, 92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising.
That makes recommendations pretty powerful when it comes to decision making.
Every year at the end of the Spring II term, Saint Leo University's Center for Online Learning (COL) conducts a student satisfaction survey. All enrolled students receive a detailed list of questions about everything from technology and instruction to financial aid, support services and climate.
The final question – an overall satisfaction rating – is this: "Would you recommend Saint Leo to others?"
This year a record 99 percent of respondents said they would recommend Saint Leo University to others. That's even higher than last year's 95 percent.
"We are thrilled that 99 percent of the students who responded to the survey would recommend Saint Leo's online degree programs," said Kathryn McFarland, Saint Leo's vice president of enrollment and online programs.
"It's exciting news from an enrollment perspective. But even more importantly, it means that 99 percent of the students are so satisfied with the educational experience they are having at Saint Leo that they would encourage others who are looking to earn a college degree to do it through our Center for Online Learning.
that means we are meeting the needs and expectations of our students. Being student-centered is at the heart of our mission as a university. It's the reason behind everything we do."
At the end of every academic term, online students have the opportunity to rate and provide feedback on each course they have taken and the instructor. The annual satisfaction survey is conducted once a year to gather feedback about academic and administrative support, educational climate, personal reflections, and satisfaction, in general.
According to Dr. Diane Johnson, assistant director-COL faculty services, who has spearheaded the survey for the past seven years, student feedback is vital to continuous improvement.
"In previous years, for example, we were able to strengthen the support and services we provide to veterans as well as the library services we provide to online students as a result of feedback we received," she said.
In addition, the annual survey collects demographic information about the Center for Online Learning's changing student profile.
"These demographics are important because they help us better understand our students," said Dr. Johnson. "We can share this information with our faculty so they, in turn, can better meet the needs of the students in their classes."
Additional survey results show that 96 percent of students responding intend to complete their degree with Saint Leo.
While 83 percent of the students surveyed said they had taken classes previously at other colleges or universities before enrolling at Saint Leo, the overwhelming majority of respondents intend to complete their degree here.
"It's so exciting that 96 percent of our online students – the majority of whom have tried other online degree programs and universities – feel that they have found in Saint Leo what they need to be successful and complete their degree," said Dr. Johnson.
"For us as faculty and staff, our students' success means everything."
Check out some of the data from the 2013 Center for Online Learning Student Satisfaction Survey in the infographic below.
You can also click here to read some of the reasons why students would recommend Saint Leo's online degree programs.
Would you recommend Saint Leo to friends or family? Tell us why!
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Infographic by Creative Influence