Most state college grads land jobs, continue education

By AGNES BAO
Capital News Service

LANSING – About nine out of 10 recent graduates from four state universities have landed jobs, continued their education or made other career or volunteer commitments, according to the earliest available “first destination survey” results.

The rates among those responding to the surveys were highest at 91 percent for Wayne State and Western Michigan universities, followed closely by Northern Michigan (89.6 percent) and Central Michigan (89.4 percent) universities.

The statistics include those securing full-time or part-time employment, continuing their education such as graduate school, an additional degree or a certificate, and other activities like military service or volunteering full time.

However, the data from Northern Michigan and Central Michigan didn’t count those other commitments.

Post-graduate placement rates from the other 11 state universities are scheduled for release in the next few months.

For example, Michigan State University (MSU) will release its class of 2017 survey report at the end of February, said Everett “Rett” Weber, the data scientist for Career Services Network. Grand Valley State University is analyzing its data for release in the spring, said Susan Proctor, the employer development manager of its career center.

The First Destination Survey examines post-graduate placement of students who have received bachelor’s degrees.

The prior year’s reports showed placement rates for 2016 grads were above 95 percent at five universities: Eastern Michigan (97 percent); Ferris State (96 percent); Lake Superior State (96 percent); MSU (95 percent); and University of Michigan – Dearborn (96 percent).

The rates of the other 10 were around 90 percent: Central Michigan (89.5 percent); Grand Valley (93 percent); Northern Michigan (89 percent); Michigan Technological University (94 percent); Oakland (92 percent); Saginaw Valley State (92 percent); University of Michigan – Ann Arbor (93 percent); University of Michigan – Flint (91 percent); Wayne State (91 percent); and Western Michigan (92 percent).

Trends in overall placement rates are increasing in 10 years, according to the reports.

Lauren Leeds at the state’s Center for Educational Performance and Information said although her office collects data at the state level, it doesn’t aggregate the survey results.

Each institution conducts its own survey and prepares its own report under the guidelines of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, she said.

Robert Murphy, the director of university relations and policy at the Michigan Association of State Universities, said the employment data for new graduates is useful for universities to understand their students’ performance in the marketplace and to adjust their programs.

At Grand Valley, Proctor said the report helps the university be accountable to its stakeholders by ensuring it fulfills its mission and that graduates are contributing to the economic vitality of the community.

Furthermore, she said that with the help of the data, prospective and current students and their families can make better decisions in selection of colleges, majors and career pathways.

Stephen Patchin, the director of career services at Michigan Tech, said the placement data is used for ranking, academic accreditation and corporate recruitment.

“We use our annual report very heavily in recruiting our students in the college fairs,” Patchin said.

“We distribute 4,000 to 5,000 hard copies to MTU’s departments and gave several thousand hard copies to all students and parents that come to campus tours,” he said.

While the First Destination Survey is important to each university, fewer than half the recent graduates responded to the survey at some institutions.

MSU’s Weber said more universities are using a “knowledge rate” in their reports. That combines survey responses with information from other sources, such as the graduates’ advisers.

Proctor, of Grand Valley, said, “We are looking for strategies to help improve our knowledge and response rates,” including sending calls for responses at least six times to graduates within the first seven months after graduation, marketing through many platforms such as social media, print and personal outreach, and providing monetary prizes.

Jason Nicholas, the director of Institutional Research and Analysis at Northern Michigan, said, his office plans to increase the response rate with new marketing strategies and getting alumni support.