The Maneater

Survey reports recent MU graduate success in career outcomes

The survey gathered data from almost 76 percent of alumni from the fall 2016, spring 2017 and summer 2017 graduating classes.

How do MU students compare to their peers in other groups across the nation?

An MU survey regarding career outcomes for recent graduates conducted in December found that 90.4 percent of graduates reportedly held positions in employment, public service, military or postgraduate education.

Graduates from the classes of fall 2016, spring 2017 and summer 2017 were surveyed. The 90.4 percent rate outpaces several peer groups that the university uses as a barometer for success, such as the Association of American Universities public institutions’ 75.6 percent and the Southeastern Conference institutions’ 75.5 percent, according to an MU News Bureau release.

“We’re here to prepare students to be able to secure meaningful opportunities once they get finished,” Jim Spain, vice provost of undergraduate studies, said. “Nine out of ten places us well above average for all the peer groups we compare ourselves with, and we continue to have more employers coming to Mizzou.”

The survey also revealed that 74.1 percent of recent graduates have found employment, with 66.1 percent of them employed full time — also higher than the rates for peer groups. Almost 76 percent of recent graduates took part in the survey, which was distributed at several different increments; one month prior to graduation, at graduation, three months after graduation, six months after graduation and one year after graduation.

The survey was graded according to the national standard set by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, and the university used the vendor GradLeaders to produce the survey, creating a standardized platform.

“Most departments had their own homegrown surveys, but if we’re going to report and aggregate this data, it needs to be a bit more centralized for collection,” said Amanda Nell, senior student service coordinator for the Career Center, who helped gather data.

The Career Center worked with Spain to ensure that all departments, or “units,” on campus were working with the same tools and data.

“Our role was to coordinate the campus effort, because we all have to report our data to the UM System, and the UM System reports our data to the state of Missouri,” Nell said.

Although the results are encouraging for the university, Spain believes there are still improvements to be made — specifically regarding what MU is actually doing to help those graduates that have yet to find success.

“We didn’t do anything intentional as an institution to say, ‘We need to connect you with this resource, with this person,’” Spain said. “We’re at 90.4 percent, nine out of 10, and we want it to be 95 percent, so what are we going to do to help students find that post-graduate career? Doing things that intentionally support and help students reach that outcome, and we’ll make an investment in that.”

Spain added that those measures would include contacting MU alumni, potential employers and faculty to help with employment and graduate school entry.

The survey in its current form began last year, which was the first instance of the university using a nationally standardized platform. It came about as a result of the state of Missouri establishing immediate post-graduate success as one of its funding metrics — this is set to begin in fiscal year 2019, Nell said.

The university conducted a similar survey in the early 2000s called the “destination study,” but due to several university departments conducting competing surveys of their own, it was discontinued, Nell said.

“It was a campus-wide survey, but some of the academic units were doing their own exit survey, so it was a competing effort,” Nell said. “So the university decided their response rate wasn’t great and let the academic units handle it. Some units have been doing their surveys for a long time, and some units didn’t. Our role was to get everyone on the same page, which took several months.”

The university hopes to use the survey to improve future career efforts for students and to ensure graduates have proper opportunities.

“We don’t want a student to invest four years here, get their degree and then not have an opportunity that they’re really excited about,” Spain said. “A college degree is a significant financial investment and a significant investment of four years of your life. I want it to be worth something; we need it to be worth something. That’s our focus.”

Edited by Morgan Smith | mosmith@themaneater.com

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