Seniors' Last Word
Most recent graduating class says faculty is more academically than emotionally supportive



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Academic Exchange December 1999/January 2000 Contents Page

Ninety-seven percent of the Emory College Class of 1999 felt that faculty provided them with intellectual challenge and stimulation throughout their undergraduate years, according to a recent survey. Ninety-three percent also said they had opportunities for conversation with their professors outside the classroom. But while most students reported strong faculty support in academics, 33 percent reported having not received emotional support and encouragement from their
professors.

The survey polled 992 of 1,136 graduating seniors and was conducted last spring by the Office of Institutional Planning and Research in conjunction the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium. Below are some additional highlights.

Multicultural orientation. Thirty-seven percent of last year's Emory College seniors studied abroad during their undergraduate career, mostly in European countries. More than half of the respondents took at least one course with emphasis on the cultures of the Arab world, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, or Latin America and the Caribbean. One-third took courses with emphasis on African-American life, institutions, and culture. And approximately half of the seniors had at least one course with emphasis on the study of women, women's issues, or feminism. Ninety-five percent report having studied and socialized at least occasionally with persons from a different racial or ethnic group. And almost two-thirds attended events sponsored by cultural organizations representing a different racial or ethnic group.

Participation in university life. By far, the activity that involved most seniors was volunteering: approximately three-quarters of the respondents participated in some type of volunteer services. Forty-five percent had an off-campus internship. Forty-four percent participated in an honor society, and forty-three percent were members of a social fraternity or sorority.

Personal goals. The most important goals to the seniors, in order of importance, are "raising a family" (75 percent), "being very well-off financially" (46 percent), "making a significant scholarly or intellectual contribution to one's field" (42 percent), and "working to build a community" (38 percent). "Influencing the political structure" is important only for 19 percent of the respondents.

Career Plans. When asked about their principal activity the next fall, half of the surveyed seniors chose "employment," and 38 percent reported they would continue their education at a graduate or professional school. Since students completed the survey early in the year, their employment plans were relatively undefined at that time. This is reflected in the following findings: seventy percent of those who intended to work upon graduation were searching for a position; 15 percent planned to start their search after graduation; 10 percent already were offered and accepted a position; and 4 percent already were offered and refused a position.

Of the 992 respondents, 399 (40 percent) applied for admission to graduate studies for the next academic year. The most popular degree programs students applied for were medical and law degrees. A relatively low proportion of seniors indicated a desire to start a Ph.D. program. The most popular fields, besides law and medicine, appear to be the biological sciences, psychology, and humanities.
When asked about the highest degree they hope to obtain regardless of their fall plans, only 18 respondents (2 percent) do not want to pursue advanced degrees. Eleven percent of senior respondents plan to pursue more than one advanced degree at some point in their career. Half of the respondents expect to obtain their highest degrees in law, medicine, or business.

In choosing a career, the majority of Emory students consider the following criteria to be essential: interest in work (50 percent), stable and secure future (46 percent), intellectual challenge (45 percent), and opportunities to be creative and exercise initiative (41 percent). Between freshman and senior years, the proportion of those planning a career in medicine dropped from 34 percent to 19 percent. On the other hand, by the senior year, more students want to pursue other professional fields, such as business and law.
D.T.