The negative opinions on Studentsreview.com would not matter if the site hadn’t logged 26 million visits this year.
The problem is that it does, and far more people see its results (that a only 29 percent of students would return to UAA) than the more thorough Noel-Levitz survey that measured student satisfaction, and which suggested that 74 percent of UA students would “do it all over again.”
StudentsReview catalogues student submitted opinions on their respective schools. Since 2000, the site has reviewed 3,359 universities, including every school in the UA system.
The Noel-Levitz higher education consultants conducted the fall 2007 survey that said 74 percent of students would probably, maybe, or definitely re-enroll at UA.
It is important to note that Noel-Levitz surveyed the entire UA system, whereas StudentsReview has a separate survey for each school.
The numbers for Fairbanks and Anchorage are in some areas identical.
For the Noel-Levitz survey, there were seven options for student response: definitely not, probably not, maybe not, maybe yes, probably yes, definitely yes, an I don’t know.
It is a yes or no question on StudentsReview.
How the questions are framed can in-part explain the results.
StudentsReview reminds surveyees that there are options besides UAA; it sets the student up to think of another school in comparison to UAA.
The Noel-Levitz survey encourages the surveyed to think only of UAA—“would you enroll here.” The Noel-Levitz assumes students have less of a choice.
Students-Review uses the word ‘chance’, whereas Noel-Levitz uses the phrase ‘had to.’
Some feel Students-Review’s methodology is suspicious, and even its director, Beracah Yankama, said it could improve.
StudentsReview relies on students to come forward and offer their opinion. Why they should come forward—anger with the system, sympathy for prospective students—is anyone’s guess.
Whatever the motivation, it’s obvious that the survey is not randomly distributed. The sample size is incredibly small: only 25 students submitted their opinion, and all of them were undergrads. There were three times as many females as males.
The average ACT score of these reviewers was 28. The average score for UAA students is 21 on the ACT. These students were either stellar and all in the Honors College, or (what’s more probable) lying.
Yankama recognizes these deficiencies, but then highlights the value that submitted comments have.
“Read the opinions knowing that they are experiences. They did happen. They didn’t have some “probability of happening,” and weren’t some kind of “just a complainer” event. Where something happens once, it happens twice, so read, learn, and make an informed decision. Don’t let others dupe you into dismissing evidence so that you make the same uninformed decision that they did,” Yankama wrote on the website.
The site itself doesn’t help its credibility. The website’s design is a relic from the turn of this century.
The information on UAA is nearly 10 years old. It lists tuition at the 2002 price of 2,977 per year.
In contrast to StudentsReview, the Noel-Levitz Survey released 100 page reports over a one year time period demonstrating their results.
The UA system has not conducted a Noel-Levitz Survey since fall 2007.
UAA conducted its own assessment (also through Noel-Levitz), last year, and plans to release the results later this year.