Research Findings

Three overarching observations:

  1. Responses were very similar across all eight groups.
  2. The majority of respondents have positive perceptions of NIU.
  3. The majority of respondents think NIU provides a high-quality education at an affordable price.

Some key institutional strengths identified by all groups include: 

  • Wide variety of majors and degrees
  • Caring and accessible faculty
  • Excellent range of extracurricular activities
  • Faculty achievements are impressive
  • Alumni achievements are impressive
  • Chicago-area location provides significant advantages
  • Cost-vs-benefit calculation high: NIU is an affordable, high-quality choice

Respondents were asked to provide words and phrases that described NIU. The following were the most common attributes submitted:

Friendly

Welcoming

Strong leadership

Comprehensive 

Student-focused

Affordable

Successful alumni

Caring faculty

Tradition/history

Wide variety of majors

Comfortable

Proximity to Chicago

Close to home

Sense of community

Individual attention

Division I athletics

Mid- to large-sized university

Wide variety of extracurricular activities

Fun

Huskies

Rural

Accessible

Regional

Diverse







Respondents were also asked for words, phrases and images they would use to market NIU to prospective students:

  • Close to Chicago
  • Caring, personalized attention
  • Success in life with an NIU degree
  • Exciting athletics
  • Changing, updating, progressing, renewing
  • Committed to excellence
  • Connected to businesses
  • American dream fulfilled
  • Find and realize your potential
  • Hands-on learning
  • Alumni network  

Respondents also identified what we call “aspirational attributes,” or those characteristics that define what they expect from a university like NIU:

  • Nationally recognized
  • Hands-on preparation for the real world
  • Strong research programs with opportunities for student participation
  • High quality professors and highly-ranked academic programs
  • Strong athletic teams 

Finally, respondents provided attributes they believed were important in positioning NIU as a vibrant institution that is well-prepared to meet the challenges that lie ahead:

  • Providing a relevant education that empowers all learners
  • Global connections
  • Transformational experiences
  • Engagement with the region and world
  • A genuine embrace of diversity
  • Emphasis on ethics to produce responsible citizens
  • Strong connections to corporations and all Chicagoland institutions
  • Robust alumni network
  • Strong job placement services

Related Links

NIU Brand Image Survey by the Public Opinion Laboratory - Excerpts from Executive Summary (pdf)