Sauk Valley Community College analyzes survey results
DIXON – For Sauk Valley Community College officials, the number of people who responded to the districtwide survey wasn’t as important as the quality of their responses.
About every 5 years, Sauk surveys district residents to gather information to help improve services, expand academic programs, and gauge the reputation of the college.
In July, it sent nearly 40,000 community surveys and 4,500 business surveys, the latter with an eye toward how the college can continue to help train, educate and fill local workforce needs, to help grow the local economy.
It got 230 community responses, and 75 from businesses.
That’s a typical response rate, and isn’t a 100 percent reflection of the community, said Joe Bright, Sauk’s director of research and planning.
“With this survey, we really wanted to see how well our market penetration works, and see how familiar people are with the college,” Bright said.
In fact, 98 percent of the community respondents were very or somewhat familiar with the college and 75 percent of the same group had visited the campus in the last 3 years.
Bright was more interested with the type of answers given:
When asked are the college’s best features, answers in ranking order were affordability, convenience, transferability of courses and variety of degrees and certificates offered.
“One of the most things we want to be is an affordable college, and it showed in the results,” Bright said.
“We have also amped up our efforts to make sure we have convenient and multiple online offerings, and making sure those degrees transfer.”
Equipped with this information, the school more effectively can market its programs to the community.
In the response from businesses, 60 percent said were aware they have employees who have graduated from Sauk, and 95 percent said they were very satisfied or satisfied with employees who are Sauk graduates.
Also, more than half of the respondents said they look to Sauk for continuing education and specialized training.
“Most of the businesses that said they come to us for continued training and education are in manufacturing,” Bright said.
It’s no secret that one of Sauk’s fastest-growing programs is its multicraft technology program – created in direct response to local demand for welders, electricians and machinists.
“We have a history of manufacturing in this community and we still do. We want to make sure companies have a capable and wall-trained workforce to hire from.”
In the future, though “we’re going to try a few different methods” for surveying, he said.
“Targeted social media campaigns and focus groups will give us a more in-depth look at the populations we didn’t get responses we from with this survey.”