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SURVEY OF ENGLISH ALUMNAE AND ALUMNI 1999-2007 Report

Introduction

What careers do English majors pursue after graduating from Hartwick College? What do they choose to read? What would they recommend that we faculty do to strengthen the English major? Such are the questions that we asked in a questionnaire developed in 2008 and sent to alumni who graduated between 1999 and 2007. The 10 questions are mostly the same as those in the survey we conducted in 1999 and sent to graduates from the classes of 1989 to 1998. In the later survey, however, we dropped questions about computer training and career portfolios because they were no longer major concerns. In conducting both surveys, we wanted to assess the effectiveness of the major and gather useful information about graduates. Since a report will be sent to everyone who completed a questionnaire, we also will update alumni about the Hartwick College English major.

In 1999 questionnaires were mailed to 289 graduates from 10 classes, whereas in 2008 questionnaires were mailed and e-mailed to 176 graduates from 9 classes. Between 1989 and 2008 the average class size fell 9.3%, going from 26.2 to 19.6. The drop reflects the national decline in numbers of English majors during the past two decades.

Offsetting the smaller pool that we began with, a greater percentage of graduates returned their questionnaires, 24.4% compared to 21.4% in 1998. Yet, smaller class sizes and the inclusion of 9 classes instead of 10 yielded 43 completed surveys, compared to 62 in 1999. Despite the smaller numbers, the diversity of responses appears greater, as this report will show. The higher percentage of responses in 2008 may be partly attributed to greater access to the Internet, for many questionnaires were returned electronically this time. We also made a more concerted effort to reach graduates, telephoning some and sending a second mailing with persuasive hand-written notes by a few department faculty. Yet, many graduates have moved and changed their e-mail addresses so they were impossible to contact.

Although our numbers are smaller than in 1999, the detailed comments that the survey elicited will help us to assess the Hartwick English major. The body of this report presents the questions we asked in 2008, followed by summaries and samplings of the responses.

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