Strategic Partnerships for Increasing Knowledge Rates in First Destination Surveys
EACE Blog contribution by Jesse Wingate, Assistant Director in the Office of Alumni and Career Services, University of Richmond
On Friday, January 31st I attended the first NACE Advocacy Mash Up in Washington, D.C. Career development professionals from around the country filled a 140-seat auditorium to learn a bit more about the new standards and protocols for the collection and reporting of post graduate student outcomes for undergraduate institutions. Designed by the NACE First-Destination Survey Task force, with the input of NACE members, standards were shared to assist colleges and career development offices in their collection processes of post graduation outcomes.
In review of these standards, institutions are encouraged to collect the “highest possible rate” (a preferential minimum of 65%) alluding to the “knowledge rate” that an institution obtains when collecting post graduate data. When I started collecting these data at two different institutions, I realized very quickly that the process and goal of collecting data at such a rate was no small feat. In a nutshell, we collect data differently and not one institution is the same. There are several institutions that shared with me inspirational stories about 100% knowledge rates within 6-months of graduation (applause necessary). On the other hand, there are many institutions that have struggled to collect any information at all.
There are many reasons why we collect these data but a key factor is our obligation as an institution to use the information to promote and strategically advance the holistic and educational benefits that define our respective institutions. As I mentioned in my last presentation on this topic at the EACE Conference in May 2014, a lack of sufficient information about our graduates’ first destinations can hinder our ability to successfully advise, counsel and promote the great worth of a particular institution in the “marketplace” of higher education.
Realizing that we all have unique ways of collecting these data, I decided to briefly comment on departmental partnerships that can be beneficial to any party that wishes to expand, improve or begin their collections processes for the Class of 2014. Regardless of the outcome, I hope that this brief post can assist you in thinking strategically about the ways in which you can collect the recommended 65% knowledge rate proposed by NACE.
By collaborating with the Registrar department, you can request the information that you need in order to determine those that have petitioned to graduate. Some colleges and universities have even reduced the amount of questions included on a standard post graduate survey because they have been able to retrieve the information through the Registrar. For example, if you can obtain name, major, concentration, school, degree and identification number from the registrar, you have an opportunity to eliminate many of those questions on your survey. By using a unique key (like an identification number), you can export your results from your survey collection tool and pair the responses from your survey with demographic profile information retrieved from the Registrar department.
Everyone at the college or university is a stakeholder in these data. Enlisting the support of faculty in your collection process can be invaluable. Rather than send a mass email message to every faculty member, try reaching out to the Registrar department to see if they can assist in identifying courses or faculty members with a concentrated amount of graduating seniors. By strategically reaching out to faculty members that have courses with a high volume of graduating students, you’re apt to have more success in reaching a higher knowledge rate.
Many career development and institutional research professionals are partnering with colleagues in their advancement division. In many regards, this could be a wonderful relationship to build. Many colleges and universities have varying departments within their advancement or development divisions that have mutual interests in collecting like data. If you can identify a partner that is trying to update exiting students’ addresses for the purpose of sending mailings, perhaps you can establish a relationship with that particular colleague and combine your surveys or forms.
If your institutional research colleagues are not already involved in your collection process, you’ll want to bring them in as soon as possible. Many colleges and universities struggle to manage issues of “survey fatigue” on campuses and its important to notify your institutional research office if you plan to collect information to eliminate any overlap that may occur with other collection processes that are taking place on campus.
As you continue to build partnerships, remember to talk with everyone that you know on campus. Emphasize the importance of collecting these data with your colleagues; you never know what strategy may evolve.
Jesse Wingate is an Assistant Director in the Office of Alumni and Career Services at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia. He currently advises undergraduate students interested in science and health related professions and has been involved with post graduate outcomes collections processes at two institutions. Before joining the staff in Richmond, Jesse held roles at Dartmouth College and the HowardCenter, a community mental health and multi-service agency in Burlington, Vermont. Jesse earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from St. Lawrence University and a Master of Education degree from the University of Vermont. Connect with Jesse on LinkedIn or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.