University surveys graduates, seeks info about real world

by Mitch Anderson

It’s a question many seniors find themselves pondering at the end of their collegiate career: What am I going to do after graduation?

The Board of Regents got to see how recent University graduates were faring in the real world when the University unveiled its recent-graduate tracking survey last month, “Perspectives on Student Outcomes.”

The survey, which the University e-mailed to alumni six months after graduation, asked questions that dealt with a range of topics such as job search length, average salary in first job and overall satisfaction with the University experience.

The report found that 63 percent of Twin Cities campus graduates found a job within the first two months of graduation and 93 percent found a job within six months.

The survey also found that 78 percent of graduates worked in fields that were closely or somewhat related to their field of study, while only 22 percent had jobs that had nothing to do with their major.

Graduates of the Twin Cities campus rated the University five on a scale of six in terms of overall satisfaction with their postsecondary experience.

Jerry Rinehart, vice provost of student affairs, said the survey was a way for the University to gauge things that matter, such as student satisfaction and success.

“Overall in the country, there has been greater demand and expectation of parents and students that when they graduate, they’re going to find something relevant to their education and take advantage of the fact that they spent this kind of money on their education,” Rinehart said. “It’s kind of a way of documenting the return on that investment.”

Rinehart said the outcome survey increased the effectiveness of evaluating graduate outcomes by replacing the various surveys that colleges used to conduct on their own.

He added that the new system made it possible to compare results systemwide, because all participants answered the same questions.

Other highlights of the survey included a breakdown of average salary by college within the University.

The Institute of Technology led in average salary, with an average of $49,650 annually, while the College of Biological Sciences came in last with an average salary of $28,958, according to the report.

Jeremiah Champ, who recently graduated from the Carlson School of Management with a degree in finance and risk management, said he was pleased with his experience at the University.

“I think I can go a lot of places with my degree,” Champ said. “I’m not too limited on what I can do right now, and I think a lot of it is who you know, and my school had a lot of opportunities to meet people in different areas.”

Amanda Hess, who recently graduated from the College of Liberal Arts with degrees in Spanish and political science, plans to attend graduate school. She said not all majors are focused on jobs straight out of college.

“It is kind of difficult with a political science major and Spanish major. It’s pretty broad,” she said. “For some majors, you almost need to go to graduate school to make them useful.”

Rinehart said different colleges emphasize various things when preparing students for life after school.

“Each college has a different philosophical perspective on how tightly their programs are tied to particular vocational areas,” he said. “It would seem like these data will reflect those philosophical differences.”

Despite the difficult job search and student debt she faces, Hess said she’d still choose the University again if she had to.

“Although student debt sucks, I wouldn’t trade the last four years of my life in for a million dollars,” she said.