How to Conduct Alumni Surveys [+ Example Questions]


Gathering insights from alumni provides many benefits for higher education institutions. 

To discover the best quality insights, we suggest running alumni surveys. These surveys, often conducted online, are sent out to alumni groups to gather feedback about their experience attending the institution. 

With this information, colleges and universities can improve alumni engagement and outreach methods. Below, we'll discuss the benefits of alumni market research and how it's conducted.

Looking to survey your alumni? Contact our online survey company. We manage survey design, programming, fielding, and analyzing feedback. Simply fill out an online form or email [email protected].

What is an Alumni Survey?

An alumni survey gathers feedback and insights from former students or members regarding their experiences, career trajectories, satisfaction levels, and suggestions for improvement.

They can be conducted through online questionnaires, phone interviews, or mailed forms.

Alumni surveys aim to achieve the following:

  • Effectiveness of educational programs
  • Identify areas for enhancement
  • Maintain connections with graduates
  • Gather data for institutional planning and decision-making

Benefits of Surveying Alumni 

Since alumni groups are an important part of the higher education system, surveying them will allow these institutions to learn important details about their experience. 

These details, discovered via alumni surveys, will allow higher education institutions to adjust their interactions with this important group.

Let's review the key benefits below! 

Feedback for Program Improvement

First and foremost, alumni surveys are a great way to improve academic programs and offerings. 

Since they're the only group of people who have been through these programs, they hold the keys to a wealth of information. 

Below are some ways in which alumni surveys can help improve academic programs: 

  • Curriculum enhancement
  • Course content updates
  • Outdated course content
  • Career prep guides

These insights will not only improve the details of an academic program but will also enhance the education of current students.

Again, since school alumni have gone through these courses, they will provide the most relevant feedback.

Career Success Tracking 

Another important set of alumni data for institutions is their post-graduate experience feedback. This data is key for colleges and universities to see how their programs pay off in the end. 

  • Do alumni end up in their desired field?
  • What types of organizations do they work for?
  • Are they able to move up in their organization? 

The answers to these questions help tell institutions how their programs impact students going forward. 

Additionally, data on post-graduate success can also be used in the marketing outreach of these institutions.

Including this data is important for potential students to see when deciding where to attend college/university. 

For example, if a student is deciding between two schools to attend, and one lists post-graduate success information based on alumni data and one does not, that student is likely more keen on choosing the school that does. 

Networking Opportunities

Alumni groups are ideal for networking - this is especially important for newer alumni as they enter the workforce. 

These alumni networks are especially helpful for...

  • Mentorship programs
  • Job placements
  • Discovering alumni interests

Another way alumni surveys assist with networking opportunities is through events held. While these events are social in nature, they often have a theme or general topic they follow. 

Running alumni surveys will be able to help discover and tweak new and existing networking event topics and opportunities. 

Institutional Reputation

Conducting alumni surveys is also great for including success stories on college and university websites. 

While alumni surveys certainly gather data that can be used for improving current systems, they can also reveal what institutions are doing correctly. 

This positive feedback can be repurposed into alumni success stories/comments and used for marketing materials, while also being featured on the institution's website. 

Emphasizing the success of alumni can inspire potential students, potentially leading them to choose to apply. 

Adding success stories based on data from alumni surveys allows potential students to accurately weigh their options and determine what their career path could be.

Donor Relations

Since alumni surveys aim to improve their overall experience with an institution, this automatically helps fundraising and donor relationships. 

Alumni who are passionate about their alma mater will be more likely to donate and make related gestures. 

What's more, alumni will also feel more connected to their alma mater as they receive surveys. This shows that the institution genuinely cares for its alumni and how they cater to them.

Continued alumni surveys, when necessary, will continue to foster this sense of trust and connection with graduates. So aside from monetary support, these surveys end up creating lasting bonds with alumni. 

Steps to Conducting Alumni Surveys

The steps to following a standard alumni survey follow the standard market research process. Below, we'll briefly touch on each step and why it matters. 

online survey process

1. Kickoff Meeting

The kickoff meeting is an essential part of any market research process. 

During this meeting, the client meets with their third-party market research team to discuss key aspects of the project. 

Often, these meetings will cover:

  • Main objectives
  • Client goals
  • Timeline
  • Questions/Concerns

Skipping this step is a huge no-no, and can negatively impact the rest of the market research project. 

2. Design and Programming

Once the client's goals are clear, the research team can start crafting the alumni survey.

Questions are drafted and carefully edited and reviewed by members of the research team. It's important to keep survey questions concise while also ensuring they engage the survey respondent.

When questions are easy yet engaging, respondents can genuinely enjoy the process. This also prevents respondent drop-off! 

Once crafted, the survey will be programmed into an online platform. Testing before launch is essential during this stage, as errors may still be lurking. 

3. Fieldwork

This term simply refers to the time the survey is live, or in the field. 

In the case of alumni surveys, this is probably going to be a few weeks. It's at this stage that the respondents will answer the survey.

We recommend running a soft launch when the survey is sent out to only a small pool of respondents, in case of an error. 

That way, only a small number will see the error versus the entire respondent pool. 

4. Analyzing Data & Debrief Meeting

After fieldwork wraps up, the survey data will be carefully reviewed, or "cleaned" by the research team. 

Data cleaning ensures no faulty responses get through to the final data set. Examples of this include…

  • Duplicate responses
  • Nonsensical answers
  • Straightlining (when the respondent quickly checks off the same response number) 

Once the data is cleaned, it's then placed into a final topline or comprehensive report.

reporting packages drive research

These reports include a detailed rundown of what the data revealed, including elements like key findings, recommendations for going forward, and so on. 

Lastly, at Drive Research, our market research team will meet with the client to review each portion of the report. This way, any final questions or concerns will be covered with the client. 

Example Questions to Include in Alumni Surveys

Questions for an alumni survey depend on the needs of the higher education institution distributing it. Below is a list of example questions you may find in a survey for alumni. 

  • Are you currently employed?
  • Did your alma mater adequately prepare you for your current career? 
  • Rate the relevance of the courses you took to your current position. 
  • What is your overall satisfaction level with your education? 
  • Has your degree continued your professional and personal growth?
  • Would you recommend your alma mater to potential students? 
  • Rate your level of satisfaction with your alma mater's current alumni outreach program. 
  • Does [alma mater] have enough alumni support services in place?
  • How can [alma mater] improve their alumni outreach and support services? 

Final Thoughts

Alumni surveys are a vital component of any higher education institution. 

Feedback from alumni can enhance the services of a college or university in many ways, including:

  • Marketing strategies
  • Current outreach programs
  • Alumni events
  • Fundraising and donor relations

Aside from these benefits, alumni survey data provides academic institutions with the ability to see how their programs have a long-term effect on post-graduates. 

However, implementing the data is key! Running these surveys is an advantageous move, but not using the data correctly negates the entire process. 

When the alumni data is used properly, academic institutions will see a positive effect on new and older alumni groups.

Contact Our Online Survey Company

Drive Research is a national market research company, specializing in full-service online surveys.

Our market research company manages each aspect of your online survey project to ensure 100% quality respondents and data. This includes survey design, programming, fielding, and analyzing feedback.

Interested in running an alumni survey with our team? Contact Drive Research through any of the four channels below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040


Lark Allen

As a Content Marketing Specialist, Lark has a strong background and passion for creative, professional, and journalistic writing. She is also a self-proclaimed music freak and 90s enthusiast.

Learn more about Lark, here.

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