ADA – East Central University has a new tool in tracking the progress and success of its recent graduates.
For the first time ECU, along with 43 other colleges and universities in 22 states, have a reliable and nationally-standardized method for finding out what their students are doing after graduation.
“ECU has collaborated with CSO Research to develop an online survey to tap student behaviors in seeking their first full-time job and to assess their attitudes toward the workplace,” said ECU Career Center Director Peggy Saunkeah.
The Outcomes Survey – powered by CSO Research, Inc. – enables schools to gather data on graduates’ career outcomes, their level of engagement in the process of seeking a first destination after college, the impact of experimental education and on their career outcomes, their satisfaction with their first destination, and their personal and professional motivation in pursuing a career.
In addition to nationally standardized questions on the survey, universities or colleges can ask custom questions unique to their campus.
Most other sources of standardized career outcomes data are state-supported tools that rely solely on graduates working fulltime within the state, according to Saunkeah.
“Graduates working out of state, in part time jobs, gap year or service programs, pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors or otherwise working independently, are not counted, nor are those pursuing graduate school or other educational paths,” Saunkeah said. “As a result, this data, while sound, is not representative of the variety of first destinations new graduates may choose to pursue. The 21st century workforce is complex. The Outcomes Survey takes this complexity into account.”
Recent ECU graduates were sent a quick 2-5 minute survey. Those who filled out the survey were not subject to being placed on solicitation lists as all anonymous data collected benefits ECU in providing better programs, student services and to secure federal institutional funding.
In pubic reports produced by CSO Research, Inc. response data is sanitized to remove all information that could identify individual student and institutional responses. ECU also takes similar steps to ensure respondent anonymity in public reports.
Institutions using The Outcomes Survey have real-time access to all of their data via an administrator dashboard; get pre-formatted campus-level reports at graduation, three months, six months and one year; and get aggregate national reports at six months and one year. Deeper reporting functionality is on the drawing board.
“The Outcomes Survey is the only turnkey solution available that provides standardized and comprehensive first destination career outcomes data on new college graduates, including data on fulltime employment, graduate school enrollment, part-time employment, military service, gap year, fellowship program and service program participation, and those graduates choosing to start their own businesses or work as independent contractors,” said Saunkeah.
Connecting the dots between college and career is important. In fact it is ECU’s responsibility, according to Saunkeah.
“Helping students achieve post-graduate success is a critical part of the mission at ECU. When we admit students, accept their tuition and facilitate their financial aid, we take on a certain responsibility. We do not owe students jobs. We do not have to show a dollar-for-dollar return on their financial investment. We do not have to offer any guarantees,” Saunkeah said. “We should offer a quality education, and integral to a quality education is experiential education, career exploration and career readiness preparation.”
The ECU Career Center’s goal is to have an integral role – in collaboration with other ECU units, including academic departments, alumni relations, recruiting, marketing – in collecting and disseminating career outcome information.