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New Poll Finds UA Alumni Report High Levels of Personal and Professional Happiness

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Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat Derric Vaughan attracts the attention of his family before the 153rd Annual UA Commencement on May 12.

University of Arizona alumni report a greater sense of personal happiness and professional fulfillment than graduates from similar universities, according to a poll conducted by Gallup earlier this year.

Alumni also reported a greater feeling of emotional connection to their alma mater than other graduates.

"I am thrilled, but not surprised, that these results show that our graduates leave the UA prepared for success,” President Dr. Robert Robbins told UA News.

The poll surveyed 4,200 UA graduates who earned their bachelor's degrees between 1947 and 2016. Survey participants were asked about their collegiate, professional and personal experiences during and after their time at the U of A.

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The UA Alumni Association, the Department of Marketing and Student Affairs and Enrollment Management all helped fund the the poll. “We all want to know how people are faring,” said Melinda Burke, President of the Alumni Association. “That’s real important to us.”

The survey measured five areas of well being: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. 

Sixty-four percent of alumni report feeling like they have a sense of purpose, defined as liking what one does each day and being motivated to achieve goals.

Alumni also reported high levels of social well-being, with 61 percent of those surveyed saying that they maintain strong and supportive relationships. 

Alumni reported a 57 percent satisfaction rate for both financial well-being, defined as the ability to manage economic life in order to reduce stress, and community well-being, which
asked about feeling safe and having pride in where one lives.

The only aspect of well-being that a majority of alumni did not feel they possessed was physical. Forty-three percent of UA graduates surveyed reported feeling that their physical well-being is thriving. 

The results of the survey were compared to the Gallup-Purdue Index of over 60,000 recent college graduates. 

UA alumni rates of well-being exceeded rates reported by graduates of peer institutions, such as the University California Los Angeles and and the University of Florida, in each of the five categories of well being. 

“We have a strong belief that our alumni like this place, that they do have a strong affinity for the university,” Burke said. “What we didn't realize was this is was stronger than many of our peers.”

Additionally, UA alumni indicated that they felt the university prepared them well for dealing with the world beyond college. 

A third of graduates reported having a job waiting for them when they graduated. 

After finding a job, two thirds of alumni surveyed said that they have an ideal job for them. Eighty percent strongly agree that they are deeply interested in the work they do. Additionally, 80 percent also report being satisfied or extremely satisfied with their organization.

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UA alumni satisfaction with their professional lives also far exceeds that of graduates of peer institutions in each of the aforementioned three categories by as much as 13 percentage points.

Other key findings include the fact that nine out of 10 UA alumni reported feeling that their education was worth the cost.

In addition to alumni, Gallup also surveyed 3,200 UA undergraduate students. The results of this survey were also positive. Over 75 percent of students reported feeling that developing students problem-solving abilities, writing skills and ability to work in groups. 

“Happiness definitely influenced my decision to come here,” said Sam Henke, a UA freshman. “It was important to me to go to a university that I felt comfortable in, one that not only had strong academic programs and availability of financial aid, but also an atmosphere that made coming to college feel like a second home.”


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