Information for Students, Parents,
Thank you for your interest in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE, pronounced "nessie"). Our agreements with schools that participate in NSSE prevents us from reporting the results for individual colleges and universities. However, individual schools may provide their NSSE results if asked. In fact, many institutions have posted key findings from their students' responses to the survey on their institution websites. To learn more about a specific institution's NSSE results, we encourage you to visit their website or to directly contact the school’s admissions office. In the meantime, please explore our website further for valuable information on the college student experience.
“I have given the Pocket Guide to my 10th and 11th grade students for years. I keep copies in the office as well. I know from experience that the questions included are really useful.”
—Karen Miller, Director of College Counseling, The Park School of Buffalo, NY
“No other ranking or guidebook offers the depth of analysis for prospective students and their families found in NSSE.””
—Stephanie Fabritius, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Centre College
Who can benefit from NSSE information?
- Students currently enrolled at colleges and universities who have been invited to complete the survey
- Parents, students, high school counselors, and college admissions staff involved in the college search and decision-making process
- Professional education and career counselors
What does NSSE do? Who is surveyed? How are the results used? Find answers to questions about the ways NSSE helps colleges and universities understand how their undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college.
The Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) is an initiative by public four-year universities to supply basic, comparable information on the undergraduate student experience—primarily to students and their families but also to campus administrators, campus leaders, faculty, the public at large, and also legislators and public policymakers—through the College Portrait. The College Portrait seeks to produce comparisons, not rankings, to assist prospective college students in choosing a “right fit” university.
NSSE has been selected as one of four assessment instruments about students’ experiences and perceptions for the VSA. Read more
More detailed information in question-and-answer format targeted to parents and students on how NSSE survey results can be used in the college search process.
College and universities participate in NSSE because they want to learn more about what their students think and how they can improve the undergraduate experience at their institution. Find out what students need to know when they receive an email invitation to participate in the survey.
Our newly revised pocket guide for parents and students is provided through school counselors, college admissions offices, educational organizations, and is also available for download on the NSSE website. The guide suggests questions students and parents might ask when visiting a campus or exploring colleges online that can help them make the difficult choice of the institution that best fits the student.
The Spanish-language version of our pocket guide Una Guía de Bolsillo para Escoger una Universidad: Qué Preguntas Hacer en Tu Visita a una Universidad, is available for download. Free copies are provided to high schools, colleges, and nonprofit educational organizations.
Learn more about the NSSE Pocket Guide in this short YouTube video
NSSE Pocket Guide Is Now Mobile!
Use the QR code below to access a streamlined mobile version of NSSE’s pocket guide. Have suggestions at your fingertips for questions you
and your parents might ask as you tour campuses to learn more what students are doing and thinking at a particular college or university.
A Pocket Guide to Choosing a College: NSSE 2015 Answers from Students (this report was formerly named the Student Experience in Brief) provides a snapshot of the level of student engagement on campus and is based on student responses to selected questions from the pocket guide. The pocket guide brochure and report were designed primarily to aid prospective students and their families during the college search process, but institutions may also find the report a valuable resource for a variety of on- and off-campus constituencies. View a sample of the Pocket Guide report
View how Centre College is using their Pocket Guide report to inform prospective students.
NSSE and the VSA College Portrait
The VSA recently mailed out over 16,000 promotional packets and new College Portrait posters to high school counselors across the country. You can find more information and download the flyer (PDF format) from the VSA website.
What Educators are Saying about the NSSE Pocket Guide:
"I plan to give a copy to each junior and senior. We will discuss the survey, the colleges who have participated, and how to use the questions in the booklet. I teach a class called 'Senior Seminar,' which spends significant time on college research and application strategies. I also meet with juniors and their parents in the spring to officially open the college search process."
- Director of College Counseling, private school, Snyder, NY
"I will distribute them to the entire junior class when I make presentations to them in the spring. I would also like a few to have available for parents who drop in to my office and for younger students. I also intend to put the link to your website in my Junior/Senior Planning Handbook so that families can become familiar with NSSE."
- College and Career Advisor, high school, Pleasant Hill, CA
"I am very excited about getting these guides. They will be so helpful for our juniors and seniors who are beginning the college application process. Thanks!"
- High School and College Program Coordinator, youth program, Chicago, IL
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