Job and Grad School Placement Rates at Colleges: Good Luck Finding Them

When you’re looking at colleges and universities wouldn’t you like to know if their students found jobs after graduating?
Wouldn’t you like to know what kind of success students at a particular school enjoyed in getting into graduate school?
Duh. Of course, you would.
Believe it or not, federal law requires colleges and universities to disclose job and graduate school placement, as well as others pertinent statistics. A new report recently released by the Education Sector and the American Enterprise Institute, however, suggests that many institutions are ignoring these disclosure requirements or doing a poor job of sharing this critical information.
A federal law passed back in 2008 (Higher Education Opportunity Act) mandated that schools provide statistics in a variety of areas, but these are the five area that the think tanks thought were of most important to policymakers and families:

  • Employment and graduate school placement.
  • Credit transfer policies and articulation agreements.
  • Textbook prices for courses taught at the school.
  • Private loans.
  • Graduation rates of low-income students.

Job and Grad School Success Rates

Here is how the two think tanks summed up the employment and grad school placement requirements:
Colleges must make available to current and prospective students “information regarding the placement in employment of, and types of employment obtained by, graduates of the institution’s degree or certificate programs,” as well as the types of graduate and professional education in which their graduates enroll. In addition, colleges that advertise “job placement rates” as a means of recruiting students must provide prospective students with the most recent job placement statistics.

Searching for the Elusive Statistics

In looking for the information, the researchers examined each school’s website and if the information was missing, they called the colleges. The researchers contacted 152 public and private four-year colleges and universities to see if they were complying with the law.
Compliance was lowest for low-income grad rates – -just 25% had the stats posted. Ninety nine percent had credit transfer information for students who want to transfer to the institution.
Sixty seven percent and 60% of schools respectively shared information about employment and grad school success. A significant portion of this information, however, was vague and not helpful including attempts to meet the federal requirement by sharing alumni success stories.
The report did mention schools that provided meaningful statistics.  The Colorado School of Mines, for instance, provides employment figures for its graduates by industry and degree.

The study also shared employment from Oakland University in Michigan and Iowa State University, but the screen captures for those schools were just as fuzzy when I tried to replicate them. You can find their charts by reading the report, The Truth Behind Higher Education Disclosure Laws.

State Statistics on Employment Success at Universities

The study also noted that some states, such as the Arizona Board of Regents and the state of Florida, are sharing employment information for public universities, which is an excellent practice.

 Job Placement Stats at Florida’s Public Universities

Job Placement Stats at Arizona’s Public Universities

Bottom Line:

When researching colleges and universities, inquire about a school’s grad school and job placement rate. With any luck, you’ll be directed to meaningful information. Also check to see if a particular state collects them.  In the meantime, let’s hope Congress rewrites the provisions to make sure the job statistics that schools do share are required to be helpful.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she has just released an eBook, Shrinking the Cost of College: 152 Ways to Cut the Cost of a Bachelor’s Degree. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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  1. All states should set up meaningful placement statistics for all universities, both public and private, located in that state each year. Meaningful placement statistics include data on job placement for each major/professional field, acceptance into graduate programs, graduation rate/time taken to graduate, and career info for alumni 5, 10 and 15 years from graduation.
    Meaningful job placement stats are placement rates after graduation for each major and professional school including: how long after graduation when job was obtained, what type of job/related to major and field, and salary info.
    Also important is how long graduates last in and what success they obtain in these fields. Stats for grads 5 and 10 years after graduation giving salary info, job title, and what field/industry working in.
    Also, of course, meaningful stats require honest and complete reporting by a substantial number of graduates and alumni. Grads can be required to honestly report info to an authority. Alternatively, employers can be required to report to an authority statistics on their employees such as: institutions where employees’ degrees obtained, salary info, and job title.
    It would be nice to have a website where info is available.

    1. The problem is that graduates can’t legally be required to report job placement information to any “authority”. It’s a violaton of their right to privacy. Perhaps the requirement could be added as a necessary condition of accepting Title IV funds but even then the data would not include cash paying students.