The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) recently published a first-ever national survey on college and university graduate "first-destination/post-graduation' outcomes. The survey based results from 207 member institutions utilizing the same survey methodology, measuring graduate outcomes from both bachelors and associate degree programs. With this new study, NACE hopes to provide a baseline to determine future trends in education and labor.

Survey Methodology

NACE's aim was to provide clear, concise data at a national scale by developing a streamlined survey methodology and uniform set of definitions for graduate outcomes. The survey represented nearly 274,000 graduates (266,119 at the bachelor's degree level, 7,733 at the associate degree level) from the class of 2014, the survey sought to measure outcomes of recent graduates who were 6 months out of graduation. The entire pool represented 31 broad disciplines and 190 majors, while the bachelor's degree graduates were from private and public non-profit colleges.

Survey Highlights: Bachelor's Degree Summary Outcomes

  • Total graduates: 266,119
  • "Positive outcome': 80.3%*
  • Employed full time, standard job: 52.5%
  • Unemployed: 19.7%
  • Continuing education: 16.4%
  • Employed, other: 9.5%
  • Service/Military: 1.8%
  • Mean starting salary: $48,190

*Positive Outcomes as defined by: full-time employment, continuing education, "employed, other,' or service/military

The Good News

Despite the aftermath of the recession, many students are finding what the survey categorized as "positive outcomes' within the first six months after graduation. This doesn't necessarily mean full-time employment; if full-time employment is not an option or available for a graduate, young grads are finding other ways to get their feet wet in the labor market or take the next step with their career path.

The Concerns

As more college-educated grads enter the workforce than ever before, it's important for career schools and colleges to properly equip students with marketable job skills and job market savviness. Despite the positive results of the survey, one in five of the surveyed graduates are left without a destination. With about 1.7 million college grads entering the labor market each year, that leaves 340,000 unemployed grads. Though it takes time for recent grads to find their footing and gain the necessary employable skills, it's also up to employers to be able to hire and train new employees.

Moving Forward

It is important for schools and employers to begin analyzing and understanding these outcomes. This survey provides an invaluable window into understanding how education and the labor market intersect, and what kinds of opportunities graduates are finding based on level of education, type of school, region, type of study, etc. For future surveys, NACE should also consider inviting career schools to participate in the survey, in order to understand the complete picture of the educational landscape.


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Resources: Photo Credit (1) Colleges and Graduates, Survey Says... (2) The NACE First-Destination Survey (3) National survey focuses on outcomes of new college graduates