Area college students rate various aspects of South Bend

By: NewsCenter 16 Email
By: NewsCenter 16 Email

From the Community Campus Advisory Coalition and Nathan Lazenga, an executive MBA student at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame:

Over 1407 Responses from participating institutions:

- Bethel College
- Holy Cross College
- Indiana University School of Medicine (South Bend)
- Indiana University South Bend
- Ivy Tech Community College
- Purdue College of Technology South Bend
- Saint Mary’s College
- University of Notre Dame

Survey responses increased from St. Mary’s, Holy Cross, and Ivy Tech, while Purdue and IU School of Medicine had similar response rates to last year.

However, the number of responses overall is significantly lower than last year and this can be attributed to a lower response rate from Notre Dame, IU South Bend, and Bethel.

The survey captured a good, representative sample of class years and majors. However, this year had more students from South Bend and the Midwest (74%) compared to last year (60%).

This can likely be attributed to a smaller survey response from the University of Notre Dame as it is the local school with the greatest population of students from a diverse geographical background.

The opinions captured in this survey do not vary much between genders or class year, although many more female students responded this year relative to male students (St. Mary’s College had an excellent turnout by percentage, and this likely influenced this result).


Most Respondents were undergraduate students, and their majors were a relatively equal balance between Arts and Humanities (37%), STEM (26%), Business (20%), and Medical (15%).

On a scale of 1-7, students on average:

Feel they know South Bend (5.02, up from 4.17 in 2013)

Rate South Bend as a city (4.20, up from 3.64 in 2013)

Feel South Bend is a positive place to receive an education (4.79, up from 4.31 in 2013)

Would consider living in South Bend Following Graduation (3.43, up from 2.53 in 2013)

Regarding time spent in South Bend:
8% do not spend any time in the city (up from 13% in 2013)
21% spend 1-2 hours (down from 30% in 2013)
19% spend 3-5 hours (down from 22% in 2013)
11% spend 6-10 hours (equal to 2013)
41% spend more than 10 hours per week (up from 24%).

These students allocate their hours per week in the city as follows: 1.37, hours of community service (up from 1.14 in 2014)
5.69, hours of work/internship (up from 3.81 in 2013)
3.44 hours of entertainment (up from 2.83 in 2013)
2.84 hours of dining (up from 2.26 in 2013)
1.82 hours of a club/sport/or activity (up from 1.23)

Top 3 Reasons for residing in South Bend after graduation: Employment, Assets (Colleges/Universities, Parks/Trails), Family/Residence

Top 3 Reasons for not residing in South Bend after graduation: Employment, Safety, Entertainment (top uncontrollable responses included: distance from home, weather, graduate school options)

Most important factors to increase chances of residing in South Bend after Graduation: Employment, Safe Neighborhoods, social/lifestyle, and dining and entertainment.

Attributes of South Bend that students especially appreciate: Dining and Entertainment (DTSB, Eddy St. Commons, hidden gems), Outdoor Recreation (Parks, Bike Paths, Trails), Affordability, and Good (Friendly) People.

Top two categories to make the student experience more positive: Increased Entertainment Options and Safety.


All positive measurement traits increased significantly from 2013 to 2014, and while the CCAC certainly thinks that city, organizational, and individual efforts are improving student perception and experience, the substantial increase in all of these categories is likely bolstered by the fact that students in this year’s survey are much more familiar with South Bend and spend more time in the city.

However, this does support the most important finding from last year: the more time students spend in South Bend, the better perception they have of the place.  

For example, students who rate South Bend a 6 or 7 in terms of quality of city (promoters) average 6.04 in terms of knowledge of city, 6.15 in rating South Bend as a positive place to receive an education, and 60% spend 10 or more hours in the city per week, 71% spend 6 or more hours in the city per week, and 88% spend 3 or more hours in the city per week on average. These students also averaged a response of 5.53 for whether they would consider living in South Bend after graduation.

To contrast, students who rate South Bend a 1 or 2 in terms of quality of city average 4.09 in terms of knowledge of city, 2.86 in rating South Bend as a positive place to receive an education, and 14% spend no time in the city per week, 42% spend less than 2 hours in the city per week, and 62% spend less than 5 hours in this city per week on average. These students also averaged 1.37 for whether they would consider living in South Bend after graduation.

Students who are from South Bend have a better feeling towards their hometown 4.52.  Those from the Midwest have slightly higher affinities for South Bend than those from the South, East or West (but all are above 3.5).

The hourly breakdown of activities truly shows the immense impact of students in the South Bend community. For example, with a total population of roughly 30,000 students in the South Bend area, this means that students contribute roughly 41,000 hours of community service per week in South Bend and spend over 85,000 hours supporting local restaurants and over 100,000 hours at local entertainment venues.

Work (Internships) is what students do most in South Bend, but enjoying Dining & Entertainment are overwhelmingly the next two things that students do when the city.  It is worth noting that even though students spend quite a bit of time doing these activities, two of the top reasons cited for keeping them in South Bend would be increased employment opportunities and social activities (dining and entertainment options).  

Employment is the #1 factor increasing students desire to reside in South Bend post-graduation. However, Safe Neighborhoods is second in terms of factors that would keep students in South Bend post-graduation.  It is important to note that students who spend more time in the community are more likely to think South Bend is safe as familiarity seems to improve student’s perception of safety. Then next most important (in order) are social/lifestyle, dining/entertainment, housing, and outdoor activities.

Conclusions and Key Takeaways:

The goal of the CCAC Student Survey is to make South Bend the absolute best place to receive a higher education degree and an increasingly attractive place to reside after graduation. The CCAC hopes to use this survey data to develop strategies to achieve this goal. In addition, the CCAC will continue to conduct this survey on an annual basis to measure its progress.

The conclusion from the survey data is very similar to 2013: if we, as a community, increase students’ exposure to South Bend and integrate them into the city through work/internships, community service, dining and entertainment, outdoor activities, etc…, we will improve their feelings towards South Bend and increase their chances of retaining them following graduation.

Although we cannot change the weather, we can help link students to employment opportunities in South Bend and expose them to a wide variety of dining and entertainment options in the community while attempting to increase the entertainment activities that they desire. We need South Bend to feel like an increasingly “cool” place. Many great assets already exist, but we need to maximize exposure to these assets and increase attributes that students desire in a city.

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