A recent community survey revealed residents have an overall positive view of East Central College.
The Warren Poll, a firm hired by ECC to conduct the survey, interviewed at random 585 ECC district residents, 18 years and older, by phone from Jan. 10-23.
Dr. Ken Warren, who owns the firm, presented the results to the board of trustees at the meeting Monday, April 1.
As Warren said he expected, The Warren Poll found that the demographics were virtually the same as the demographic findings from the 2006 and 2009 surveys conducted for ECC.
Of the people polled, a majority of residents have lived in the district more than 20 years, and almost half did not have children ages 18 or younger in their household.
The educational levels were consistent with rural Missourians overall, but income levels fell below average of typical Missourians. However, income levels were consistent with the incomes of rural people.
Overall, Warren said, nearly 100 percent of those surveyed felt ECC was important or very important to this area.
“That’s a very high statistic,” he said. “Let me tell you I do a lot of polls for communities, and these results are very positive.”
The quality of education at ECC also ranked high, Warren said, with more than 93 percent of the residents saying they thought it was either “good” or “excellent.” And about 68 percent surveyed said they think the quality of education at ECC is as good as a four-year college.
As for location, only 4.6 percent of residents thought ECC was not conveniently located, a finding that surprised Warren.
“Normally, those who live quite far from the place in question answer that the location is not convenient or very inconvenient, but this was not found to be the case in this survey,” he said. “For sundry reasons, practically all respondents, 98 percent, or 523 respondents out of 534 answering the question, found ECC to be conveniently located for them, regardless of how far ECC is from their home.”
The Warren Poll found that ECC district residents felt that ECC has done a good job preparing students in all career areas, with nursing being No. 1, followed by engineering, vocational/technical fields, and computer technology and teaching, and least well in business and fine arts, although ECC was perceived as doing a commendable job in preparing students in the latter career areas as well.
Nearly everyone surveyed said they think the area could benefit from ECC adding educational opportunities,
Some of the suggestions were to add more courses for adults, particularly more online courses.
“We find that online courses are becoming more popular,” Warren said. “They add a lot of flexibility to education where people can take courses and complete their degrees while at home.”
Another suggestion was to make credits more transferable to four-year colleges.
Warren, who is a professor at Saint Louis University, said he hears this complaint from many students transferring from two-year colleges.
“That was mentioned quite a bit,” he said. “The only thing ECC could do to improve that would be to somehow set up more communication with four-year schools to get guidelines from them as to what courses would transfer from ECC and what courses would not.”
Warren said credit transfers is not a problem just for ECC, but for all community colleges.
The survey was conducted as a tool to help a committee of faculty and staff members as they develop a strategic plan for the college in the upcoming months.
A strategic plan is a road map for the college that will guide it through the process of achieving its long-term goals.
ECC President Jon Bauer said the college plans to conduct a similar survey every two years, to help with planning and quality improvement processes.