MAP-Works Survey grants freshman free room and board

Stephanie Luhring

Dana Buer, freshman in animal science, won free room and board for her freshman year for completing the fall MAP-Works Survey.

When she heard she won, Buer said she was surprised.

“Is this real?” she remembers thinking. “I never win stuff.”

Cameron Aisenbrey, communications specialist for the Department of Residence, said MAP-Works helps students “bridge that gap from wherever they are coming from.”  

Iowa State has used MAP-Works for three years, beginning in the fall of 2008. Peter Englin, director of the Department of Residence, said the program is “helping students help themselves.”

MAP-Works is produced and marketed by Educational Benchmarking Inc., and it is a series of voluntary surveys students can take to help them recognize where they have resources on campus. Aisenbrey said it is offered to all freshman and first-year students as an assessment tool to help students transition from high school to college.

Iowa State became involved after seeing the results Ball State University had with a paper version of the survey. Englin said Iowa State helped Educational Benchmarking Inc. improve MAP-Works and was involved with the movement from paper to a web-based version.

Educational Benchmarking Inc. developed a private formula that points students toward helpful resources, such as advisers, residence hall directors and counselors. The information provided by students is given to administrators only on a need to know basis.

Virginia Arthur, associate director for Residence Halls, said 85 percent of all on-campus students and 50 percent of off-campus students participated in the fall MAP-Works Survey and “typically the students who take it have significantly higher GPAs.”

The on-campus students who took MAP-Works Survey had an average GPA of 2.78, and those who did not had an average GPA of 2.41, Englin said.

The prize Buer won was self-generated by funds from the Department of Residence, ISU Dining and the Academic Success Center. Englin said that free room and board were not the only prizes available to students for completing the MAP-Works Survey. Students could also win coupons for free smoothies on campus by participating.

Buer was chosen through a random drawing. Every student who participated in the fall MAP-Works Survey was entered, and a random number generator was used to select the winner. To be eligible, the only requirement was that the student must live on campus. The free room and board prize applies to Buer’s freshman year and the cost of Buer’s residence contract will be credited back to her. 

Buer said participating in the MAP-Works Survey helped her realize the importance of how much time she spends studying, relaxing and sleeping. She said she knew it was helpful for administration to get feedback from students.

“It seems like people usually delete survey e-mails,” she said, but she learned from her statistics class that having enough data is important and she “figured 15 minutes isn’t hard to do.”

It was a simple way to earn a year’s worth of free room and board.

“Our students work hard and this is a way to alleviate pressure,” Englin said.