Survey: Most College Graduates See Positive Outcomes After Completion

Quick Takeaways:

  • Within the six months following graduation, 85 percent of those with associate degrees and slightly more than 80 percent of bachelor’s degree graduates could point to a positive outcome, such as employment or continuing education.
  • Institutions located in the Northeast and Midwest had stronger outcomes for their graduates than other areas of the country, with the Southeast showing the poorest outcomes.
  • The survey showed that the majors and disciplines that are most likely to lead to full-time, traditional employment are those that are most closely linked with specific job skills and those that are more career-oriented in nature.

By Brittany Hackett, Communications Staff 

While a majority of college graduates see positive outcomes after graduation, nearly one in five bachelor’s degree graduates are “adrift” six months after graduation, according to a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

The report presents the findings of a January 2015 survey of NACE member institutions about the outcomes of the graduating class of 2014, including responses from 190 institutions that reported on their bachelor’s degree graduates and 17 institutions that reported on their associate degree graduates. The total number of students included in the data was close to 274,000 graduates, including 266,119 bachelor’s degree holders and 7,733 associate degree graduates.

The results, according to NACE, “represent a baseline for assessing where graduates at the undergraduate level land within six months, on average, after receiving their degree.” 

The survey found that within the six months following graduation, 85 percent of those with associate degrees and slightly more than 80 percent of bachelor’s degree graduates could point to a positive outcome, though bachelor’s degree holders had a higher percentage of full-time employment and higher average earnings ($48,190 for bachelor’s degree holders compared to $32,525 for associate degree graduates).

Among associate degree graduates, the survey found that 64 percent of students in 2014 were employed in some way by the end of the calendar year, including 47.6 percent who had full-time jobs by “traditional” employers and 16.5 percent who were employed either part-time, self-employed, or engaged in a fellowship or internship program. Just over 20 percent were continuing their education and 15 percent have either not found employment or are not seeking “a clear destination,” NACE reports.

Among bachelor’s degree graduates, 52.5 percent were employed full-time with a traditional employer within six months of graduating, and 16.4 percent were continuing their education. Close to 20 percent of the class of 2014 with bachelor’s degrees were unemployed or were not pursuing advanced education and 9.5 percent were part-time, self-employed or otherwise engaged. Just fewer than 2 percent were in the military. 

The survey also broke down the outcomes of students based on geographic region and school type. For instance, the responses indicate that institutions located in the Northeast and Midwest had stronger outcomes for their graduates than other areas of the country, with between 85 percent and 93 percent of their graduates holding positions of employment, continuing education, or service at the time of the survey. Graduates of schools in the Southeast had the poorest outcomes, with about one-third still seeking or not seeking employment after graduation.

The survey results showed a “significant difference” in outcomes of graduates from public schools versus private schools, with 73.4 percent of public school graduates indicating positive outcomes compared to 89.5 percent among those from private schools. Forty-eight percent of public school graduates had found full-time employment, compared with 58.5 percent of private school graduates. 

Interestingly, the data indicates that there is “very little difference” in outcomes between institutions focused on liberal arts programs and those focused on professional or career-oriented programs at the undergraduate level, as well as large versus small schools, NACE notes. There was also no difference in outcomes between schools located in urban, rural, or suburban areas, though graduates from rural schools had, on average, lower starting salaries ($41,000) than their counterparts in suburban ($51,000) and urban ($48,000) areas.

The survey also looked at outcomes among graduates of 31 academic disciplines totaling 190 majors and found biology to have the lowest overall outcomes percentage at just under 74 percent and communication technology to have the highest at nearly 95 percent. 

The survey showed that the majors and disciplines that are most likely to lead to full-time, traditional employment are those that are most closely linked with specific job skills and those that are more career-oriented in nature. For example, more than two-thirds of business and engineering majors are employed full time with traditional employers within six months of graduating, with 15 percent of those majors continuing their education. In comparison, only 32 percent of physical science majors and 34 percent of philosophy majors are employed full time in traditional positions, but they are more likely to be continuing their education, 41 percent and 28 percent, respectively.

 

Publication Date: 6/16/2015


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