Report on Undergraduate Alumni Survey of German Majors

The report was written by Peter Pfeiffer and Inga Wildermuth.  Thanks go to Raisa Ledesma, Mindy McWilliams, and Rusan Chen (CNDLS) for their help with administering the survey and for providing tabulations and statistics.

Executive Summary of German Major Alumni Survey 2013

- 472 alumni contacted; 106 responses; 22% response rate

- Alumni from early 1960s to 2013 responded

- Very wide range of advanced degrees after the undergraduate degree, including MBA, JD, PhD, MFA, and 27 distinct MAs.

- Overwhelmingly positive evaluation of satisfaction with language abilities developed, literary and cultural knowlegde and appreciation developed, and the overall educational experience in the Department (3.59, 3.58, and 3.57 respectively on a 4-point Likert scale).

- Post-1999 graduates (i.e., after the introduction of the "Developing Multiple Literacies"-curriculum) were statistically significantly more satisfied with their literary and cultural knowledge and appreciation and their overall educational experience (3.73, and 3.80 respectively on a 4-point Likert scale).

- Overwhelmingly positive rating of the personal benefits of learning the language, the literary and cultural knowledge and appreciation, and the overall educational experience in the Department (3.26; 3.31; and 3.30 respectively on a 4-point Likert scale).

- Faculty quality and the Study Abroad experience were most often cited as factors for the positive experiences.

- Respondents articulate the need for greater clarity on career opportunities and for career guidance.

- Tension between the aims of liberal arts education with an international orientation and the professional orientation for 'real life' is apparent in the responses.

- The overwhelming success of the liberal arts education for the students and the equally successful careers (often in areas other than German) seem to indicate that this tension is productive.

The results support the continuation of GUGD’s careful curricular work. The chosen focus on multiple literacies and language in use offers a conceptual framework in which themes and topics deemed ‘practical’ can be approached within a liberal arts context. Understanding, enduring, reflecting on, and carefully responding to the inherent tension between a liberal arts education and perceived needs for (pre)professional preparation can energize GUGD’s continuing curricular work. For one of the “natural” career paths for German majors, becoming a teacher, the recent addition of education (not certification) to the College’s menu of minors, might contribute to such a response.

The results emphasize faculty quality and quality of study abroad experience as the two overwhelmingly important factors of learning success. Therefore, survey responses encourage long-term attention to maintaining faculty quality through careful hiring, mentoring, and professional development, and to ensuring outstanding study abroad opportunities for all students, including those with financial need.

 

Introduction

The Georgetown University German Department (GUGD) regularly engages in assessment initiatives focusing on various aspects of its academic programs. As part of the ongoing program evaluation, the Department decided to follow up on a previous alumni survey conducted in 2007. At that time, the alumni survey was one part of a multi-pronged initiative in program outcomes evaluation. The 2013 survey utilized the same questionnaire that had been developed for the 2007 survey to facilitate comparison of data. Unlike the 2007 survey, the 2013 survey was sent out to undergraduate German major alumni only. (The analysis of 2007 survey results had disaggregated the information for undergraduate major alumni, so the data sets are comparable.)

The intended uses of the results of the 2013 survey were to update relevant information on alumni responses to the GUGD’s undergraduate educational program; update student responses to the "Developing Multiple Literacies" curriculum in 1997-2000; maintain, establish, or re-establish contact with alumni and give them a voice in program evaluation and planning; have most recent information available for prospective students, especially concerning career paths chosen by alumni; and to communicate program quality measures to various internal and external constituencies. The expectation was that results of the 2013 survey would not significantly diverge from the results of the 2007 survey given that the alumni pool changed by only a few dozen students between the two survey dates. At the same time, the second survey was a chance to give a more detailed account of previous findings and potentially correct/adjust some of them.

The survey information was sent to 472 alumni. Surveys could be completed either electronically or in hard copy. 106 alumni completed the survey (or parts thereof) electronically for a response rate of just above 22%. No paper survey responses were received. Survey collection and tabulation was handled by the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS) to maintain anonymity.

Respondents had graduated between the early 1960’s and 2012. The largest group of respondents (N=65) had graduated between 1976 and 1995. 74 indicated that they were pre-1999 graduates; 26 indicated that they graduated during or after 1999.

Roughly half of alumni indicated that they had taken some sort of additional coursework/majors (52.8%; N=56), most of them in business/accounting/international business etc. (N=18), linguistics (N=8), History and French (N=5 each), with Russian, Art/Art History, and Chinese (N=3 each) being runners up.

The survey had two parts. First, it asked for some background data, including alumni’s career paths. Second, it asked alumni to evaluate their learning experiences (in the areas of language abilities, cultural and literary knowledge and appreciation, and the overall educational experience) as well as the benefits of the learning for students’ professional and personal lives on a 4-point Likert scale. Additionally, the alumni were invited to provide open-ended written responses to elaborate on their evaluations.

 

Results: Career Paths

The three most often cited career paths (multiple answers possible) identified by alumni included a variety of business/finance/banking/consulting careers (N= 39), various levels of K-16 education or educational administration (N=31), and positions with local/state/federal government or in politics (N=13). Other general categories include lawyers (N=9), careers in media/journalism/translation (N=9), MDs and PhDs in medical fields (N=5), art history/auctioning/music industry (N=5), travel related businesses (N=5), librarian (N=3), and minister/Jesuit (N=2). Similar to the 2007 survey, these numbers themselves do not capture the most distinctive aspects of the full breadth and variety of careers pursued by graduates and the changes in career paths common in many of them. While some career descriptions seem quite straightforward (“Finance, Investing,” “Contemporary Art Specialist at Christie’s Auction House,” “Journalism,” “Minister” or “Law, Military”) and often reflect how German majors had complemented their studies with second majors and/or minors, other career paths seem to take more turns (“Finance/Corporate Banking; massage therapy; labor doula,” “Library Science Health Services Networking Software Development Manufacturing Planning Supply Chain Design”). Some move through whole areas of knowledge and professional engagement with apparent ease (“Software localization manager: moved to SF in 1996 [dot-com 1.0] ... Went to London … studied Public Archeology, with lot of Museum Studies thrown in ... . Did project management for a museum exhibit design and fabrication firm …. 4+ years at a web design and development shop …. Left to start my own company …. Working as a Web Producer at the California Academy of Sciences…”). A significant number of careers outlined in the responses (N=45) reference some sort of international dimension either professional or personal in their careers (not necessarily connected to German-speaking countries).

The breadth of careers pursued by the alumni is also reflected in the broad range of additional degrees they received. From MFA (N=1) and MD (N=3) to JD (N=6), MBAs and PhDs (N=13 each; PhDs were primarily in German, but also included linguistics, Clinical Psychology, and Russian) to a wide range of MA/MS degrees (N=27) in areas such as linguistics, applied linguistics, German, ESL, educational policy, accounting, public administration, English, social work, international affairs, organizational development, international law, epidemiology, international business, public policy, national security, publishing and writing, philosophy, art history, library science, theology, and Southeast Asian Studies.

There were no patterned differences between the answers provided by pre- and post-1999 graduates with regard to career paths other than the obvious one of length of their careers.

 

Results: Learning Experiences

Similar to the findings in the previous survey, students evaluated their learning experiences very positively. With regard to the language abilities, 96 of 102 responded with either “very satisfied” (N=67) or “satisfied” (N=29), 6% (N=6) with “somewhat satisfied.” With regard to cultural and literary knowledge, 95 of 102 were either “very satisfied” (N=66) or “satisfied” (N=29). N=7 alumni were “somewhat satisfied.” The overall educational experience was evaluated very similarly with 94 of 102 responding with either “very satisfied” (N=67) or “satisfied” (N=27), 7% (N=7) with “somewhat satisfied,” and 1 student responding with “not satisfied.”

To further understand the results, we ran a statistical analysis of alumni responses and differentiated between pre- and post-1999 graduates. This was the same analysis we did for the 2007 survey. By disaggregating the data, we hoped to see if there were indications about the effect of the “Developing Multiple Literacies”-curriculum implemented beginning in 1997. (1999 was chosen as the year when changes in curriculum could have been reasonably established and also have had an effect on students’ learning experiences; 1999 graduates are included in the post-1999 numbers.) Table 1 shows the results of this analysis.

These results closely mirror those of the 2007 survey (see Table 2).

The responses show a very high level of satisfaction with the learning in all categories (language abilities, cultural and literary knowledge and appreciation, overall educational experience) for both pre- and post-1999 graduates. While there are notable trends among the written responses, there were no sustained thematic differences between the written responses of pre- and post-1999 students. By contrast, in two areas, learning of cultural and literary knowledge and appreciation and the overall educational experience, post-1999 alumni were statistically significantly more positive than their pre-1999 peers. Additionally, the low standard deviations of 0.45 and 0.49 respectively indicate a high level of unanimity in the evaluations from the post-1999 graduates.

55 respondents included written responses to the questions regarding satisfaction with the learning experiences with regard to language abilities. A significant number of students mentioned the centrality of their study abroad experiences for their successful learning (N=20). A smaller number commented on being more or less fluent in German or being able to speak “like a native” when they completed the program (N=10). However, there were also comments from pre-1999 students which conveyed that making “native-like” language abilities the standard to which students should aspire was counterproductive. “Never being able to reach that goal made me feel like a failure.” Numerous respondents (N=11) felt well-prepared and able to successfully use German in professional and social situations upon completing the program. 3 pre-1999 respondents referenced anecdotal evidence that their language abilities upon completing the program were “superior to others coming into an Ivy League Ph.D. program,” “much higher than top students from other universities,” and “far superior” to majors from other colleges

With regard to learning of cultural and literary knowledge and appreciation, a number of students (N=6) mentioned their study abroad experience as central – all of these comments were from pre-1999 graduates. Within the overwhelmingly positive evaluation, some pre-1999 students were critical of a disjointedness of courses and a lack of variety of course offerings (“historical linguistics as a subject entirely divorced from any texts or historical contexts,” “no attempt to place the knowledge [….] in the context of current German society or culture,” would have appreciated “more selection among courses offered,” and “more stimulating courses”). At the same time, two students commented on how well-prepared they were for graduate studies and there were numerous comments who praised the “good selection of works and topics” and the “quality of the upper-level classes.”

41 students provided written responses to the level of satisfaction with their overall learning experience. The most sustained theme that emerges from the written responses is the appreciation of faculty quality, attention to teaching, and the close personal and intellectual guidance faculty members provided (N=15). Two responses explicitly include the quality of visiting professors in their positive evaluation. Some students (N=4) echoed the first two evaluations by highlighting the role of their study abroad experience for their positive evaluation. One was particularly insistent. “I wish the year abroad program […] has a TWO YEAR option, or a SECON[D] YEAR option after completion of the B.S., to return for one year and complete the Master’s Degree. […] Now, having lived in Brazil for 11 years, I see the absolute need to spend MORE TIME abroad.”

The most negative aspect of the overall learning experience mentioned by three (pre-1999) students was the lack of career planning and advising opportunities. The one student who was “not satisfied” with the learning experience stated, “There was no resource for learning about potential career paths or jobs one might be suited for with a degree in German.” “Could have used much more career planning.” “I did not feel ‘well guided’.”

A number of alumni (all pre-1999) observe that the educational program of the GUGD was only part of the overall academic experience for students, both good and bad. “My satisfaction with my undergraduate experience as a whole probably had more to do with the challenge of studying Russian and with the quality of the science and humanities courses I took.” “SLL [School of Languages and Linguistics] as an entity was extremely badly run and hard to figure out.” “I loved the entire SLL.” “At the time it was very restrictive in terms of the other classes you could take outside of the language classes.”

There were only five written comments from post-1999 alumni, all of them positive, regarding their overall learning experience. One respondent in particular mentioned that s/he had to find his/her way after undergraduate study but was thankful for what the undergraduate program had offered her/him. “[…] That said, I would not have been able to capitalize on my studies at Emerson in the ways I have without that solid foundation from Georgetown.”

 

Results: Benefits of the Learning Experiences

Students were asked to characterize the benefits of the three areas of learning identified in the three preceding questions. The results are given in Table 3.

Again, 2013 results mirror those of the 2007 survey very closely (see Table 4).

Unsurprisingly, there is a wide variety of responses as to the personal and professional benefits of students’ different learning experiences. For their professional life, about 70% of students rated their language learning (N=68) and their literary and cultural learning (N=69) as “Benefitted” or “Benefitted very much” whereas about 1/3 (N=33 and 31) rated them as either “Benefitted not at all” or “Benefitted somewhat.” Students rated the benefits for their personal lives significantly higher; about 80% choosing “Benefitted” or “Benefitted very much” (N=81 and N=83 respectively) and 20% (N=20 and 18) either “Benefitted not at all” or “Benefitted somewhat.” The overall educational experience was rated as beneficial or very beneficial by 76% of respondents (N=77) and 24% as somewhat beneficial or not beneficial at all (N=24) for the professional life. Again, the benefits were rated higher with regard to the personal life at 85% (N=86) stating that they "benefitted very much" or "benefitted" and 15% (N=15) that they "benefitted somewhat" or not at all. The very high standard deviation, especially for the rating of the benefits for the professional life, indicate the wide range of professional engagements. One student who rated the experience as not beneficial at all professionally but very beneficial for her/his personal life states: “My job as an investigator entails fact checking and report writing following a standard format, which doesn’t have much to do with my educational experience in the department. Again, in my personal life, this educational experience has benefitted me greatly in terms of out-of-the-box thinking and having respect for other cultures.”

A high number of respondents (N=67 for benefits of language abilities; N=43 on benefits of literary and cultural knowledge; N=34 on overall benefits) elaborated on their ratings in written comments. Those written comments at times take a broader focus than just commenting on the benefits of a particular learning experience. Often, these comments clarify that the rating of the benefits of learning, especially for professional lives, does not necessarily reflect on the quality of that learning. Rather, it simply states the reality of students’ careers. The range is significant: From “I live and work in Germany,” “I worked in international publishing. German a huge plus with foreign editors,” “My entire career has been based on what I learned at Georgetown under Dr. XXX’s and Dr. YYY’s tutelage,” to more moderate uses (“Have used German as a research language”, “I was able to help my daughter in high school when she chose to study German”, “I used my German skills when studying for my master’s degree in Theology”) to the frank assessment: “German is of no value whatsoever on a gubernatorial campaign.” This range is equally present in comments of pre-1999 and post-1999 students.

There are two consistent themes on the personal benefits of the study of language and literature and culture, and the overall benefits. One strong focus is how these learning experiences affected and nurtured personal friendships (and sometimes husbands and wives). “I made lifelong friends in Germany,” “I have maintained numerous personal relationships,” “I have made lifelong friends in Germany as a result of the teaching Fulbright fellowship I was able to obtain as a result of my undergraduate experience at GU,” “Several very good friends I know via studying German,” “I met my husband in Germany,” “I did make a handful of lifelong friends who have enriched my life.”

The second theme, often linked with the first, is that of the importance of the study abroad experience. As one respondent puts it, “My self-designed study abroad at the University of Vienna, Austria was a formative life experience leading to lifelong friendships.” This is echoed throughout the comments. “My year abroad proved fabulous,” “cultural experience was gained in Germany,” “I was not able to use my language skills in my career, however my year abroad and my ease in speaking has given me so much confidence and pleasure over the years,” “the experience of being Jewish and studying in Germany was interesting,” “The experiences I had as a Georgetown student, a student studying abroad in Tübingen have been invaluable in allowing me to become the person that I am.”

There are few critical comments, all of them from pre-1999 students. “Any education is better than none! The best thing about the program in the late 50’s at the ILL [Institute for Language Learning] was the required junior year abroad.” “I cannot say I was satisfied with the German Department in the 1970’s.” “Benefited [sic] to a large extent in spite of the program rather than because of it.” These responses have to be seen in the overwhelmingly positive framework supplied by other comments. “I have to speak to my overall experience at GU, in the Department, in SLL and when I took classes in the College. The whole experience helped prepare me for the international life I wanted to have.” (pre-1999) “I value my undergraduate education and I continue, thirty years out, to be fueled by it.” (pre-1999) “The quality of education and rigor of the program have prepared me for success in numerous areas, as well as making me a better thinker and more rounded person.” (post-1999)

There are no consistent differences between pre-and post-1999 respondents other than the absence of openly critical comments in the post-1999 group.

 

Results: Suggestions

A total of 73 participants offered suggestions as to what other educational experiences would have been beneficial. The comments do not limit themselves to these suggestions but also make general concluding remarks about the respondents’ experiences at GUGD.

There are two consistent themes in respondents’ suggestions. The first is the need for greater “practicality” in course offerings (business, government, or technical issues) combined with more extensive availability of internships (N=17). “More practical courses focused on the use of language, rather than just using it as a vehicle to approach the literature, or to teach dry theoretical linguistics courses.” “A greater emphasis on speaking and writing German with a view to using the language skill obtained in meaningful way[s] in the working world.” “It would have benefitted me to have done some type of internship.” “Internships with German companies would be very helpful.” Perhaps forcing more the internship scene in DC […]” “I would have liked to have a few language sessions that concentrated on vocabulary for business specifically.” “The opportunity to work/intern in a German-speaking environment in order to utilize both business and German language skills.” (all pre-1999) “[…] a more practical orientation to the German department curriculum.” “More information regarding internship opportunities with German-related organizations in DC could have been helpful.” “It might have been good to hear more about career options.” These comments are all from post-1999 alumni.

Some comments from pre-1999 alumni recognize that there has been a significant shift in the department’s programs. “At the time I was a student, the SLL’s German Department was focused primarily on language acquisition and linguistics. History, culture, and politics were of secondary importance and the course offerings were sparse. I applaud the shift in emphasis that has taken place since then.” “I graduated a long time ago – the department today has made the changes since then that I would have recommended.” With so much support for strengthening the more “practical” aspects of the educational experience, it might also be useful to hear the counterpoint. “Overall, I am very satisfied and believe I got a world class education at Georgetown in the German Department. I very much appreciated my German professors who were stimulating and very supportive. I have gone on to be successful in a competitive graduate school program and a demanding international career and do not regret my ‘non practical’ choice of major one bit!”

The second theme emphasizes the study abroad experience (N=14). This is consistent in both pre- and post-1999 groups. “Studying abroad was essential.” “Studying at a German speaking university was key for my language development.” “The study abroad experience is crucial to the cultural/literary knowledge.” “I would suggest that all language majors be required to spend at least a year abroad.” Two alumni comment on the need to assure that every student is financially enabled to participate. “Mandatory study abroad, at least a semester, needs to be supported with financial aid package.” “It would have been nice if there had been some sort of subsidized program, some sort of exchange, perhaps, that would have made a month or a semester abroad feasible for students like me who otherwise could not afford to take advantage of such opportunities.”

In some ways related to these two themes are the call for more professional development and career counseling (N=8) and more ways to interact socially/extra-curricularly with native speakers (N=4).

One topic suggested by a pre-1999 alumnus/a in this section echoes a comment of a post-1999 alumnus/a in a previous section. “I wish I had taken education courses in college.” “I just wish I would have been able to earn a degree in education from Georgetown.”

There are numerous other suggestions, some very specific, some more and some less applicable in the context of a German department. “Brief crash course in Schwäbisch and Suezi-Deutsch might have been useful […] to help with experiences in SW Germany and Northern Switzerland.” “More computer programming experience.” “Finance taught in German , business management taught in German.” “weekly, bi-monthly or monthly Kaffee/Kuchen with faculty, graduates, and other German speakers on campus.”

 

Discussion of Results

The 2013 undergraduate German major survey reveals a consistently very high level of satisfaction among respondents with the language learning they developed in the program, the knowledge and appreciation of literature and culture, and the overall educational experience. These results are consistent with those of the 2007 survey.

Post-1999 graduates are significantly more satisfied than their pre-1999 peers with their knowledge and appreciation of literature and culture and their overall educational experience. To what extent this might be linked to the introduction of the “Developing Multiple Literacies” (DML) curriculum is unclear. However, since the new curriculum was motivated, in part, by attending to the sorts of lacunae that are being criticized by pre-1999 alumni (too much focus on language learning without context, sparse offerings in topics that utilize language in use, etc.), it is safe to say that GUGD is consistently addressing and fulfilling the educational needs and expectations of its majors at a very high level.

The main drivers of this high level of satisfaction are

the quality of faculty as intellectually stimulating teachers and mentors and

the often life-changing experience of studying abroad.

These two drivers are consistently mentioned by respondents throughout the written comments, in both the pre- and the post-1999 cohorts.

While the evaluation of the benefits of students’ learning for both personal and professional lives is rated somewhat lower than the learning experience, it is still given consistently very high marks from all students unless their careers do not draw on their knowledge of a foreign language and culture. In the written comments to these questions and the final written suggestions, there is a clear focus on what respondents believe would improve the learning experiences and make them more beneficial, especially in professional contexts. Alumni reiterate how central the study abroad experience is for their successful learning experience. In addition, they call for

greater attention to real-life issues (“the real world”) in course work and teaching the language in use,

more opportunities for hands-on experiences such as internships,

better guidance to steer students towards potential career paths.

These issues were also raised by the 2007 survey and some of them have been addressed by the GUGD, both in the implementation of the DML curriculum 1997-2000 and in response to the 2007 survey. For example, in adopting the DML curriculum, the GUGD faculty carefully renewed all thematic foci of the so-called ‘language sequence’ and is continually updating them. Within the framework established by the DML curriculum, literacy-focused courses on issues related to the business world, current events, and Germany in Europe (among others) are regularly taught. A week-long internship component has been integrated into the Business German course taught at the Trier Summer Program. There is a five-week service learning colloquium taught in Trier in collaboration with a local catholic charity. Through its listserv, the German Department has communicated more effectively to students about careers, internships, and fellowship opportunities. Students have been consistently successful in garnering Fulbright teaching fellowships, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Research stipends, Congress Bundestag Fellowships, etc. Accessibility to the summer study abroad program in Trier has been greatly enhanced by establishing enabling grants to any student with need to participate fully in the program through the generosity of the World Heritage Foundation, the Department’s establishment of the Jankowsky Fellowship, and additional support by The Friends-of-the-Trier Program.

As cited above, some pre-1999 alumni recognize these changes as addressing some of the criticisms that they had regarding their educational experiences in the Department. Yet pre- and post-1999 alumni consistently make the same suggestions for more ‘practical’ aspects, more career guidance and internship opportunities.

There are different ways to interpret these responses. One would be to read these comments as suggesting that the educational experience should prepare the students more specifically for particular career paths where such preparation would improve the competitive standing in an increasingly aggressive job market environment. Since a Georgetown education is very expensive, this jobs-oriented guidance would provide more bang for the buck. The “natural” career paths for a German major would then be to either enter teaching K-16 or in areas of translation/localization/cross-cultural advising. Even so, the call for more internship opportunities is not located primarily in areas such as teaching and translation.

Therefore, a slightly different interpretation of the results that takes a holistic view of all the data provided by the respondents seems more fitting. It is clear that students give an exceptionally positive evaluation of their educational experience at GUGD. Their satisfaction with the personal benefits of their learning is almost as positive. The language students use to describe the educational outcomes and personal benefits (some of it quoted above) – lifelong friends; life changing experience; formative life experience; confidence; pleasure; out of the box thinking; more rounded person; respect for other cultures; learning how to think about ideas and people is invaluable; continue to be fueled by it; invaluable in allowing me to become the person that I am etc. – is the language closely aligned with desired outcomes of a liberal arts education. Such an education is quite specific in that it does not purposefully educate towards a particular career but rather empowers learners through honing skills of interpretation, writing, and cultural understanding and appreciation to be and continue to evolve as reflective and flexible learners who can adjust to diverse environments. A German program lends an additional intercultural/international dimension to this through the learning of a foreign language and deep engagement with a foreign culture.

While the respondents are very satisfied with these outcomes they do wish they – or the GUGD – had done certain things differently with regard to career preparation, job counseling, and 'practicality.' As some of the suggestions show, these are at times very specific preparations that would have been tailored very much to the particular individual choice of career and development, choices made at times many years after graduation. How to prepare for all – or just most – aspects of “Finance/Corporate Banking; massage therapy; labor doula”? The enormous breadth of career paths respondents have chosen indicates the great variability of personality, values, aspirations, competencies, needs and opportunities. Based on their self-reporting, for the most part, they seem to have been quite successful/content in these varied careers and, if not, changed course. The ability to understand whether and when it is time to change course and to have the mental flexibility, personal and intellectual wherewithal to do so successfully are what the liberal arts education aims to nurture and develop. The fact that both pre- and post-1999 graduates indicate a similar need for more guidance and 'practicality' seems to point to the inherent tension between the aims of a liberal arts education and immediate ‘needs’ for professional and career success. The longer term success clearly indicated in the respondents’ answers and suggestions speaks to the overwhelmingly positive value of the education they received in GUGD and how it also laid the foundation of their adult personal and professional development. Two alumni from the time before 1999 make this point rather poignantly. “My plans as a student at Georgetown were quite different to the course my life took after graduation, and no institution could have prepared me for everything I ended up doing! But you gave me the basis to build on, and I am very grateful for that.” “I have no suggestions. Life is life. I studied German thinking that I would become a German teacher after college. But, things did not turn out that way for me, which is fine and good. I could not have planned for these events as a 19-year-old college student. The program was good and I enjoyed it at the time.”

 

Conclusion

The results support the continuation of GUGD’s careful curricular work. The chosen focus on multiple literacies and language in use offers a conceptual framework in which themes and topics deemed ‘practical’ can be approached within a liberal arts context. Understanding, enduring, reflecting on, and carefully responding to the inherent tension between a liberal arts education and perceived needs for (pre)professional preparation can energize GUGD’s continuing curricular work. For one of the “natural” career paths for German majors, becoming a teacher, the recent addition of education (not certification) to the College’s menu of minors, might contribute to such a response.

The results emphasize faculty quality and quality of study abroad experience as the two overwhelmingly important factors of learning success. Therefore, survey responses encourage long-term attention to maintaining faculty quality through careful hiring, mentoring, and professional development, and to ensuring outstanding study abroad opportunities for all students, including those with financial need.