When looking for a college or university that meets your needs, it’s important to consider a variety of factors, including your potential alma mater’s job placement rate. This rate refers to the likelihood of graduates actually finding employment once they leave school, a figure that many colleges proudly list on their websites and in catalogs for prospective students to see. Before you base a decision on the placement rate alone, however, know that the numbers aren’t always up to snuff. How do you find the right figures? Here are some things to keep in mind.
University Facts and Figures
Start your search by visiting the websites of the schools to which you’re interested in applying. Many universities post information like employment statistics under “About Us” or similar pages. Schools with good rates generally don’t hide this information since placement figures tend to boost enrollment. Don’t get discouraged if your school’s website fails to mention the figures. Instead, plan an on-campus tour and meet with an enrollment adviser to ask questions about job prospects after college. Be specific, and ask about your chosen major or eventual career path. Every school has a department or office dedicated to fielding these types of questions, and you’ll learn more about the school as you ask hard questions about life after graduation.
Consulting Outside Sources
University websites and advisement offices aren’t your only sources of information when it comes to job placement rates. Third-party sites, educational magazines and national ranking institutions like U.S. News and World Report also regularly list placement statistics to help students make more informed decisions about going to school. For example, U.S. News released a short list of the best placement rates among MBA programs in spring 2015. Schools that made the cut boasted substantial placement rates. In fact, more than 95 percent of the graduates from these programs had jobs within three months of graduation. You may not be able to find specific information about your school on a general ranking list, but you will find a good place to start. Plus, these reports and rankings are fairly reliable since they include data generated by objective third parties.
The Numbers in Context
Many prospective students place emphasis in figures that may not represent the whole truth of the matter. In 2012, the Chronicle of Higher Education released statistics noting that many placement rates aren’t accurate due to factors like inconsistent reporting and tracking. The report found that about a third of the schools that offer placement rates aren’t taking into account the job information for at least half of their recent graduates. It’s hard to get a clear figure on employment placement rates when you’re ignoring a substantial portion of your graduate pool. When you’re researching employment statistics for your school, note that the figures you’re seeing might be based on limited data.
Universities typically won’t post outright lies about their placement rates, but they may fudge the data a bit to make your post-graduation prospects sound more promising. Searching for the rate isn’t difficult, but you’ll need to consider other factors as well. When you find the job placement rate, just remember to keep this figure in its appropriate context in order to make a sound decision about the college that you choose.