Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
June 6, 2012
The graduate survey is an important tool for measuring the impact of career services on your graduates. Survey responses can provide key information about the types of services and resources your graduates used to find their jobs, and activity and timetable information for transition planning and action steps.
Assuming the principal purpose of the graduate survey is first-destination data with a more limited secondary purpose of services and resources used, a suggested timeline with multiple data collection points is:
- One to three months prior to graduation, send e-mails, texts, or other messages to students congratulating them on their upcoming graduation and inviting them to complete an online survey as soon as their plans are confirmed.During graduation activities, such as ordering regalia or during graduation practice, use print surveys or online instruments to collect data. Some type of institutional or college/departmental requirement for completion of this exercise before a student can participate in graduation exercises will help improve the response rate.
- Many institutions have a specific window, e.g. six months after graduation, for follow-up activities. A combination of e-mail or text messages, print surveys, and even telephone calls can be used for graduates who have not provided specific data previously.
- Once the specified deadline has passed, data can be analyzed and reported to various stakeholder groups.
While some career centers struggle to get the most out of their graduate surveys for various reasons, there are several fundamental planning steps all career centers can take to get the best possible results:
- Don’t underestimate the value of a well-designed and implemented graduate survey. The information can be used by multiple stakeholders and be particularly valuable to a career services unit for planning ongoing improvement.
- Define the parameters of the study and keep it focused. Making a graduate survey too comprehensive and unwieldy can significantly limit its effectiveness.
- Determine the types of information most requested and needed by stakeholders and ensure the survey instrument collects that data.
- Develop a multi-faceted plan for data collection with specific timelines to facilitate optimal response rates.
- Develop specific reporting strategies and formats for each stakeholder group, providing the information they need and will understand.
For more about first-destination surveys, see: