Sociology Alumni Survey, 2001
by Erin Behlen (May, 2001 graduate) and Dr. Robert Bilby (Professor Emeritus)

Using a mailing list provided by the UW-L Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations, approximately 800 UW-L graduates who majored in Sociology were surveyed in June, 2001. Previous surveys were conducted in the late 1970s, mid-1980s, and in 1993. The questionnaire used in the earlier surveys was reviewed by members of the Sociology Section and updated for use in the present survey. Two hundred and twenty sociology alumni responded. the median age of those who responded is 34, 67% are female, and 85% reside in the Midwest (most in Wisconsin). Some of the main findings are summarized below.

  • Of the various reasons stated for choosing to major in sociology, intrinsic enjoyment of initial Sociology courses, topics covered in those courses, or liking the instructors were mentioned most often (45%).
  • Of the various career goals these majors had in mind as undergraduates, "did not know" was mentioned most often (29%), followed by criminal justice (19%), human services (15%) and social work (10%).
  • Forty percent of these sociology alumni have attended graduate school, but less than 4% did so in Sociology; few seem to go on to graduate school directly after graduating.
  • Over half say their sociology courses have been valuable to them in general.
  • They are employed in a wide variety of fields, with 70% satisfied with their general area of work and 66% satisfied with their particular job.
  • About two-thirds say their Sociology courses have been valuable to them on their current job, with "general skills working with people" mentioned most frequently.
  • Less than half of these sociology alumni are satisfied with the academic advising and the career advising they received from Sociology faculty.
  • Overall satisfaction with the UW-L Sociology program was expressed by 65%.
  • When asked about specific courses that have been of particular value since graduation, many different courses were mentioned - indeed, almost every course in the curriculum was mentioned at least once; over half of the alumni mentioned one or more courses, 7% said "all or virtually all," and less than 3% said "none."

These generally positive results suggest that the responding alumni believe in retrospect that they received high quality instruction while majoring in Sociology at UW-L. the broad range of occupations which Sociology graduates pursue present a challenge to the Department in the area of career advising. One aspect of the Department's responsibilities that needs to be improved as far as these alumni are concerned is the area of academic advising.