Employment for Everyone

"As colleges go, DePauw University has a pretty good track record of ensuring 'gainful employment' for its graduates, roughly 95 percent of whom have a relevant job or a place in graduate school within six months of earning their bachelor's degree," Inside Higher Ed reports.

"But that wasn't good enough for the parent of one prospective student recently.

'Johnny really wants to go to your school, but Johnny has to get a job,' Mark McCoy, DePauw's president, recounts the parent saying at an admissions event for the Indiana liberal arts institution.

McCoy couldn't contain himself. 'Thank goodness you stopped him in the nick of time and threw yourself on the tracks,' he responded. 'Because nobody with a liberal arts education gets a job.'

These are trying times for leaders of liberal arts institutions like DePauw. There have long been questions about whether a liberal arts degree is the best route to a job immediately after graduation, McCoy says. 'But now people seem to be saying, if you get a liberal arts education, you’ve precluded the possibility of ever getting a job.'

There is abundant evidence that a liberal arts education prepares graduates for successful careers, as well as, of course, a successful life. But with many parents and policy makers increasingly focused on students' first jobs, DePauw is making a grand statement to show that it can do that, too.

With its Gold Commitment, which DePauw quietly rolled out during its current admissions cycle, the university promises every graduate a 'successful launch.' The university vows that for any student who does not have an 'entry-level professional position' or acceptance to graduate school within six months of graduation, DePauw and its employer partners will either give them a full-time entry-level position for at least six months, or the university will give the graduate another semester of education tuition-free. (DePauw isn't the only party that makes a commitment: students must meet a set of academic, behavioral and other requirements to qualify, and alumni will be expected to step up to help current students.)

In many ways, the goal is not a huge lift for DePauw, given the high rate at which its graduates currently launch successfully. Its typical annual graduating class is roughly 500 students, so the 5 percent each year who don't land a job or get into graduate school amounts to about 25 people."

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Publication Date: 3/13/2018

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