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Assessment Data on Graduating Seniors (Fall 1998- Fall 2000)

A few of the highlights of the graduating senior survey data are described below. For more information, please contact the Chair of the Department’s Assessment Committee, Charles Varano at

General Portrait

The graduating seniors are overwhelming women (80%), white (63%), and between 22-26 years of age (74%). About a fourth are nonwhite and older than 28 years of age. One-third of the graduates received all or most of their financial support from their families, others received varying degrees of support from scholarships, loans, and work. Nearly a third received some support from loans, while 58% received support from work, and only 18 percent received support from scholarships. The majority (72%) transferred to CSUS from a community college or from another CSU campus, while only 18 percent started CSUS as freshmen. Over half (57%) report an overall GPA in all course work of 3.00 or higher. About 25 percent report a GPA of less than 2.80 in all college course work. So about a fourth of the graduating seniors have performed at the average or below as measured by GPA. (The average GPA for juniors and seniors at CSUS is around 2.75).

A majority (61%) of the seniors felt little or no connection to campus life. Nearly 60 percent were not active participants in any campus group or organization. Only 9% felt they were considerably part of campus life. Only a fifth (22%) participated in or attended a meeting of the Sociology Student Association. Seniors (68%) also reported that events in their lives interfered with their college performance and progress toward graduation. Some of the events listed were death in family, illness, depression, unmotivated, work demands, having a baby, getting married, etc. On the other hand 70 percent mentioned events that facilitated their college performance and progress toward graduation. Some of these events were help from the CSUS testing center, good professors, intense desire to graduate, interesting classes, and treatment for depression, etc.

Seventy-one percent of seniors are extremely or somewhat clear about their career goals. Nearly a third are not. Thirty-five percent expect to go on to graduate school immediately after graduation and 46% expect to get a job.

How much time did they spend working and how much time studying? Nearly 40 percent of graduating seniors worked 25 or more hours per week, while 19% did not work at all. The average was 20 hours per week. If seniors were enrolled in any given semester for 9 or fewer units, they spent on average 8.0 hours per week studying. If they were enrolled in 10-12 units during any given semester, they spent on average 11.6 hours per week studying, and if they were enrolled in 13 or more units during any given semester, they spent on average 15.7 hours per week studying.

What are the perceptions of graduating seniors regarding the extent to which the department's learning goals have been attained?

Graduating seniors overwhelmingly believe that all of the department's learning goals were somewhat or significantly attained. The learning goals of "understanding social reality and society" (98%); "knowledge about basic concepts" (98%); "understanding how institutions like the family, education, and the economy are interrelated" (98%); "understanding the significance of variations by race, social class, gender, and age" (98%); "ability to think critically about social events and to present opposing viewpoints and alternative hypotheses on various social issues" (96%); "research and statistical skills for evaluating and gathering evidence about social life and social relations" (98%); "knowledge about how the self develops sociologically rather than psychologically (95%) and "understanding the internal diversity of American society" (88%) were the most significantly attained. The only learning goals that was less significantly attained were "understanding the place of American society in the international and global world" (61%) and "basic computer skills necessary to find, communicate, create and apply sociological knowledge and information" (83%).

What are other key perceptions of graduating seniors in sociology?

Graduating seniors strongly believe that the sociology major helped them to increase their basic and general education skills. Over three-fourths believe that their skills in reading, writing, statistics, critical thinking, computer use, interpersonal and people management skills, and data analysis were to a great or to some extent helped by being a sociology major. Strongest support (to a great or to some extent) was given to the basic skills of writing (91%), reading, (82%) critical thinking (98%) and data analysis (87%). Thus graduating seniors believe that courses in sociology helped them to think more critically and to improve their ability to read, write and perform data analysis.

Graduates also strongly believe that they will use sociology after graduation. Ninety-eight percent felt they would use it a great deal or somewhat in their personal life, ninety-six percent believe they will use it a great deal or somewhat in their work, and ninety-four percent believe they will use it in their civil life as participants in political parties, neighborhood associations, advocacy groups, professional associations, and the community.

Eighty-five percent somewhat or strongly agreed that the required core courses in the major provided integration to the undergraduate program. Over three-fourths of graduating seniors were somewhat or very satisfied with the quality of instruction in sociology; over 80% were somewhat or very satisfied with the courses they took in sociology; and nearly 85 percent were somewhat or very satisfied with the undergraduate sociology major. Nearly 80 percent would probably or definitely choose to major in sociology if they had it to do over again.









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