Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 38° Cloudy
News >  Idaho

NIC gauges student satisfaction

Taryn Brodwater Staff writer

A survey of North Idaho College students and a consultant’s visit to campus last fall revealed few surprises.

Students want more parking spaces and more money for school. They want better advising services and they want to know earlier in the semester if they’re failing a class.

But two problem areas identified by the Noel-Levitz consulting firm caught administrators off guard.

The college has always tracked graduation rates and retention rates, said Bruce Gifford, vice president for student services. The consultant gave the college its first glimpse of how its rates compared to the rest of the country – below the national average.

North Idaho College has a graduation rate of 24.5 percent, compared to the national average of 29.7 percent for open-admission, public colleges with Associate’s Degree programs, according to the consultant’s analysis.

There was a smaller gap between NIC’s retention rate, 48.5 percent, and the national average of 52.6 percent. The retention rate measures the number of students who stay in school from one semester to the next.

Gifford said the fact that NIC is off by a couple of points isn’t terrible, but it shows there’s room for improvement.

“We don’t strive to be average,” Gifford said. “We want to be better than average.”

About 400 students participated in a student satisfaction survey during the first week of school last fall. Consultant Tim Culver also visited campus and met with focus groups of students, employees and administrators.

Culver’s report commended the faculty and staff for being personable, working well together and being committed to serving students.

The college’s academic programs, reputation in the community, accessibility, strategic planning, class sizes, Web site, facilities and community outreach were also listed as strengths.

Gifford said the college has already addressed some of the “priorities for action” revealed through the survey.

Students surveyed said they wanted more financial aid. Gifford said NIC hired additional financial aid staff and the NIC Foundation is working to raise $1 million for student scholarships.

The college has hired Noel-Levitz to help NIC improve its advising services and develop an “early alert” program to help catch struggling students earlier in the semester.

“Right now there’s a support system in place,” Gifford said. “Sometimes it comes into play too late. By the time they’re coming in, saying they are in trouble, the hole is too deep to dig them out.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.