Survey Shows Which College Graduates Get the Best Jobs

Many students don’t start their job search early, gain work experience while in school, or join extracurricular organizations despite these factors’ close ties to career success

Washington, District of Columbia, UNITED STATES

Washington, DC, Sept. 07, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- An EAB survey of over 6,000 recent graduates of five public U.S. universities shows that students who get good jobs after earning degrees are more likely to start their searches 6–12 months before graduating, have a paid internship while in school, and join extracurricular organizations. However, most students do not make those choices.


“Students are increasingly focused on the kind of job and salary they can get right out of school. And administrators want to know what they can do to help students achieve their goals,” said EAB Associate Principal Brandon Chinn. “This survey underscores how important it is for students and schools to be purposeful and proactive about career preparation. It also shows that too few students are doing so.”


To accurately evaluate career outcomes, EAB data scientists first partnered with the five schools to develop a comprehensive definition of career success. The result, EAB’s Gainful Employment Score, takes into account four self-reported factors: whether the alumnus has a job, whether that job requires a bachelor’s degree, salary, and job satisfaction.


Next, in partnership with the institutions, the scientists analyzed what activities had a positive impact on students’ scores.


  • Students who started their search one year before graduation had a 15 percent higher Gainful Employment Score. Starting 6–12 months early resulted in a 10 percent higher score. However, only 16 percent of students started looking for a job one year out, and just 34 percent of students started 6–12 months out.
  • Students who completed a paid internship had a 14 percent higher Gainful Employment Score, but only 32 percent of students had a paid internship. And students who attended an on-campus recruiting event with a prospective employer had a 13 percent higher score, but only 29 percent of students did so.
  • Students who joined extracurricular organizations also had higher scores. Students who joined an academic-based student organization (e.g., accounting or economics clubs) or a sorority or fraternity had scores that were 7 percent higher than their peers who did not have those experiences. But only 31 percent of students participated in academic student organizations, and just 30 percent were involved with Greek life.


Across each institution, type of major, gender, and demographic characteristic the researchers studied, these experiences positively impacted students’ gainful employment.


The survey findings also showed a link between demographics (race, gender, first-generation status, debt burden) and students’ postgraduate outcomes. Students who identified as African American had Gainful Employment Scores that were on average 12 percent below the rest of the population. Those with a debt burden over $25,000 had scores that were on average 9 percent lower.


However, in many cases, traditionally at-risk student populations experienced outsized gains by engaging in the activities closely correlated with positive postgraduation outcomes. While participation in an academic student organization showed a 7 percent increase in Gainful Employment Scores for the overall population, it resulted in a 19 percent increase in scores for African American students. Participation in student government resulted in a 4 percent increase in scores for the overall population and a 9 percent increase in scores for alumni who were the first in their families to go to college.


“The survey suggests that there are systemic challenges that colleges must continue to work through. But there are also several opportunities to help all students be successful after school, especially traditionally underserved students,” Chinn continued. “Although these positive experiences cannot completely negate the effects of socioeconomic and demographic factors, they can certainly help students be better prepared to deal with the challenges they might face.”


For more information about the study findings and methodology, please visit EAB’s Student Success Insights Blog post, “These three activities could help improve postgraduate outcomes.”


About EAB

At EAB, our mission is to make education smarter and our communities stronger. We harness the collective power of more than 1,400 schools, colleges, and universities to uncover and apply proven practices and transformative insights. And since complex problems require multifaceted solutions, we work with each school differently to apply these insights through a customized blend of research, technology, and services. From kindergarten to college and beyond, EAB partners with education leaders, practitioners, and staff to accelerate progress and drive results across three key areas: enrollment management, student success, and institutional operations and strategy.


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