Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE)


The Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE) elicits information from entering first-year students about their high school academic and co-curricular experiences, and their expectations for college. BCSSE is paired with the National Survey of Student Engagement, which is administered later in the academic year to the same cohort of first-years, as well as to seniors. BCSSE is administered by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research.

BCSSE results and reports

St. Olaf has participated in BCSSE since Fall 2007. We receive a variety of reports comparing our students’ responses with those of students at peer institutions. We also receive an advising report for each participating student, which we share with students’ faculty advisors.  BCSSE results have been used at St. Olaf to inform faculty development programs, guide academic advising, and inform programs for incoming first-years.

Fall 2020 results

In Fall 2020, BCSSE was completed by 550 (73%) of the 754 incoming first-year students. Results suggest that incoming first-years performed well academically during high school and feel prepared to succeed at St. Olaf. They have high expectations for campus support both academically and socially. First-years expect to engage often with students from backgrounds different from their own during their first year of college, but have lower expectations for frequent interactions with faculty.

BCSSE questionnaire (Fall 2020)

BCSSE Respondent Characteristics

Gender, race/ethnicity, first-generation status, and other information about BCSSE participants

BCSSE Item Results

Frequencies and percentages of first-years’ responses to each item on the BCSSE questionnaire

BCSSE-NSSE Combined Report

Responses to paired items on both surveys completed by the same set of first-year students.

BCSSE Mean Scale Scores

Results for nine composite scales: Quantitative Reasoning, Learning Strategies, Collaborative Learning, Student-Faculty Interaction, Expected Discussions with Diverse Others, Expected Academic Perseverance, Expected Academic Difficulty, Perceived Academic Preparation, Importance of Campus Environment.

Report to the board of regents

The academic Assessment Committee prepares a report to the Board of Regents in the Fall detailing the results of surveys administered the prior year. The report linked above includes results from the 2020 BCSSE, as well as two companion surveys administered that year, the NSSE and FSSE, and the HEDS Alumni Survey.