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Seniors Surveyed about Experiences

By Nicole A. Sherry
Staff Reporter

The preliminary responses to the Undergraduate Academic Affairs office's senior survey indicate that respondents have had a wide range of experiences at MIT. So far about one-third of the seniors have replied, according to Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs Alberta G. Lipson.

Because surveys will be accepted until May 31, the UAA has been unable to draw any conclusions from the data, Lipson said.

The 10-page survey is MIT's first quantitative analysis of undergraduates' experiences. The survey contains questions covering topics including experiences relating to living groups, student activities, employment, and stress management. The results will be distributed to academic departments, Institute committees, and administrative offices in the fall, Lipson said.

The UAA sent surveys to the seniors, but they also gave seniors the option to complete the survey over the Athena Computing Environment. Lipson said she was surprised that few respondents are using Athena. Only about 20 electronic surveys have been sent in, she said.

Seniors have mixed feelings about the value of the survey and the ability of the survey to influence changes at MIT.

"I think the school should have done it sooner. It would be a good way to leave our mark as a good class," said Alisa R. Benson '94.

Kamal P. Nigam '94 said he has filled out the survey though he has not sent it in yet. "I had both criticisms and positive things to say" about MIT, he said. "I felt I was being just."

Nigam said he was shocked that this is the first time such a survey is being done. "Its usefulness will depend on how [the results] are implemented, but I think it will show lots of interesting things," he said.

"I think the response I give will make absolutely no difference at all," said Mark S. Grodzinsky '94. "The professors are there for research, and teaching makes no difference. They're interested in things that bring in more money even at the expense of teaching," he said.

Lipson released some comments from the senior surveys which have already been submitted.

Many students have had positive things to say about their experiences as undergraduates, Lipson said.

These comments include:

"Nothing else compares. While you may sacrifice some things here, it's the only choice if you want to see what you are capable of."

"The best thing is being among relatively smart people. The environment makes one eager to learn. However, knowing that there are always people smarter than you does not let one be completely satisfied."

"Meeting people from all parts of the world and seeing different perspectives on life. Working together with others to do homework in my living group. Both have been very rewarding for me."

Seniors also had many negative things to say, Lipson said.

"Though academically I have been challenged, I do not feel MIT provides for an equivalent emotional and social maturity. It is important to train the great potential here for future leadership roles, with encouragement and support, not grinding head to stone."

"I find that MIT tends to suppress one's creative skills; there are not many outlets for the arts."

"Although the resources here are tremendous, I did not know how to maximize them. There was very little guidance from administration and faculty. It was always up to me to flounder my way through what I could find."