Student satisfaction is the amount of students that had a satisfactory experience at an academic institution; it is incredibly simple in theory, but it plays a paramount role in a lot of aspects of a university or college. There are three main ways that college ranking sites measure and determine student satisfaction rates. These are freshman retention and graduation rates, which are the easiest to quantify. Another way that college rankings measure this is with student surveys, however, this method is used less because accuracy cannot be guaranteed as some students may not complete them thoroughly or honestly.

Student satisfaction is something that sounds like it would be difficult to put a definitive percentage on, so college ranking sites consistently strive to represent it as accurately and thoroughly as possible. One of the rates that is used to determine student satisfaction is the freshman retention rate at a college or university. Freshman retention rate is the percentage of students that return for a sophomore year at a particular school. This is a strong indicator of student satisfaction, especially because the first year of college is often the most difficult for students because it is a transitional phase in their lives. Another reason this is such a great indication is that a student will not return to a school that they hated, or deem that it isn’t worth continuing at that institution. The second rate that is used in determining student satisfaction rates is the graduation rate of a college. This is the percentage of students who enter into and then subsequently complete their degree program within a reasonable timeframe. The thing that makes this a good indication of student satisfaction is that it shows how many students stuck with their programs. A student isn’t going to stay with a program where they feel like they aren’t becoming adequately prepared for the next step in their education or a career in their field. It has also been proven by studies in the past that schools with higher graduation rates tend to have higher satisfaction rates. The last factor is student questionnaires. These are usually conducted towards the end of each school year so students can reflect on their experiences. These surveys can be carried out by the institution itself, or by an outside organization; one of the most popular surveying teams is Ruffalo Noel Levitz. There are also a number of anonymous survey websites out there for college students to describe their experiences so others can read about them. These questionnaire results are often omitted by rankings in the interest of accuracy because it is hard to predict the number of students who decline to be surveyed, and also students are more likely to describe an exceptional experience (whether exceptionally good or exceptionally bad.) However a college ranking decides to compile their data, you can be assured that it is with the utmost care to be accurate and up to date in their representations.