Uplifting the Whole Person

    More than just a degree — what you told us university is really about

    By Karen Sherlock on December 5, 2013

    How your U of A Experience Enriched Your Life

    The University of Alberta is clearly a catalyst for its alumni to contribute to their communities and the world. But what is it about the U of A experience that inspires you to innovate and found and contribute? And what is the university’s effect on its alumni?

    The Briggs-Jennings survey asked a similar open-ended question: what experience at the U of A had the greatest impact?

    Faculty was the No. 1 answer. Alumni wrote repeatedly in the comments section about how faculty had an impact on their education experience, their careers and their lives.

    Perhaps surprisingly, comments about degrees and jobs were less common than comments on personal growth, relationships, leadership opportunities and sports.

    Relationships, in general, were the most often mentioned. After faculty, the top relationships were with friends, students, spouse and staff. Academic experiences came second: learning, research, classes, teaching, library and student aid.

    Third came extracurricular experiences, including social, residence, foreign, sports, leadership, work programs and art. Degrees, jobs and knowledge ranked fourth.

    Only 1.7 per cent of responses were negative.

    An alumnus says it best. “The U of A is responsible for the breadth and depth of my knowledge. It opened a closed door to the world of education that included philosophy, art, writing and teaching. Most importantly, it gave me the confidence and the courage to embrace change as a lifelong endeavour,” says Wallis Kendal, ’69 BEd, co-founder of Edmonton-based iHuman Youth Society, profiled in New Trail.

    The study found dramatic changes over the decades in some non-curricular student activities. From the 1950s to now, research with faculty almost doubled, from 32.9 to 61.8 per cent. Entrepreneurship classes increased from 16.7 per cent to 27.9 per cent. International study jumped from 19.9 per cent to 35 per cent. Involvement in social activities, athletics and student politics has stayed steady over the years.

    How Happy Are You Infographic

    Infographic by Marcey Andrews