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Survey: Alumni Thriving in Work, Life

Park Alumni Center, with sign in the foreground.

Alumni of North Carolina’s public university system, including more than 12,000 NC State alumni, strongly agreed that their undergraduate education was worth the cost, and reported high levels of well-being and workplace engagement, according to a recent Gallup survey.

The Alumni Outcomes Survey, conducted by email from Nov. 15, 2018 to Feb. 1, 2019, 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 — or about 10% of those surveyed — responded.

The questionnaire assessed graduates’ perceptions of their individual university experiences and how those perceptions related to their well-being, engagement in the workplace, and quality of life years after completing their degrees. Gallup presented the results to the UNC Board of Governors at its May 21 meeting.

Among the key findings of the survey:

  • 64% of UNC System alumni and 70% of NC State alumni 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 and 67% of NC State 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 were more likely to have pursued advanced degrees; just under half of UNC System graduates who responded to the survey completed postgraduate degrees, far outpacing national comparison groups.
  • UNC System alumni surveyed were 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.
  • UNC System alumni reported higher well-being compared to national groups; this holds true across all five areas for measuring well-being (purpose, social, financial, community and physical).

“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.”

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: 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 at