Guest Column: Student voices make a difference at UI

BY GUEST COLUMN | MAY 01, 2013 5:00 AM

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When we hear from students, it helps us make the university a better place for everyone. In recent years, after listening to students, we’ve found better ways to schedule final exams, streamline the drop and add process, improve food-service programs in the residence halls, and create more and better spaces to study on campus.

One recent concern we heard from many students was the need for extra help in challenging classes. Now, hundreds of students are benefiting from the Study, Workshops, and Tutoring Program, which offers free, supplemental instruction for many classes; workshops on student success; a tutor referral service when you need one-on-one help; and a directory of Help Labs in departments throughout campus (http://uc.uiowa.edu/swat).

Since spring break, we’ve been asking UI undergraduates to tell us more. UI leaders have been inviting you by email to take a new survey about your UI experience. This survey is an open invitation to tell us what has been working well — and not so well — for you as a UI undergraduate.

We already know the faculty are working hard to help you succeed and challenge you to excel. Survey responses so far are telling us more about how you experience your classes and majors and ways we might be able to improve our support for your success and the success of future students.

We know many students are balancing work, family, and other commitments alongside academics, and we know many of you are concerned about the high cost of college. Survey responses so far are telling us more about how these concerns affect your academic and personal lives and the sacrifices some of you and your families are making for your education.

We know a great many students are actively engaged on campus and throughout the community. Survey responses are telling us more about how that engagement enriches the educational experience and also what kinds of things are keeping others from feeling as welcome and connected here.

One thing that stands out most in the survey responses so far is something we see every day: There’s a lot of Hawkeye pride here, and even as students tell us how we can improve the university, most are also telling us how glad they are to be here. The University of Iowa is a great place, and when we hear from students, we can keep making it better.

If you’re one of the 4,000 students who has completed the survey, thank you for taking time to tell us what you think. If you haven’t taken it yet, there’s still time, and we’d love to hear from you.

We’ve been hearing from a good cross section of undergraduates, though some majors and some segments of the student population are not nearly as well represented as others. We want all student voices to be heard so we can be sure survey results represent undergraduate perspectives and experiences as thoroughly as possible.

To make sure your voice is heard, go to http://uc.uiowa.edu/tell-us and log on to tell us what you think.

Beth Ingram, associate provost for Undergraduate Education
Tom Rocklin, vice president for Student Life

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