Many students enroll in a degree program because they wish to land a good job after graduation, and that means many applicants pay special attention to their chosen school’s job placement rate prior to submitting a formal application.
Some may believe that this placement rate is a significant measure of success, since their ultimate goal is to leverage their college degree into a rewarding, lifelong career.
While this is somewhat true, it’s also important to understand that a college’s placement rate is only one measure of their overall quality.
Career Placement: Only One Metric of Many
One of the best reasons to consider a school’s placement rate is because it shows how willing employers are to hire a student who received that school’s level and type of education. If the school’s placement rate is very high, this might indicate that the school has a rigorous and highly respected list of academic programs, and that employers are overly eager to hire the school’s graduates. It may also indicate that the students have undertaken internships, co-ops and practical observations, as well as networking events, in order to build a successful network.
On the other hand, the placement rate may be somewhat deceiving. Many schools extend the “placement window” after graduation, sometimes making it as long as two years. A former student who is looking for work for two years likely will not be satisfied with the quality of their education, and they would certainly face significant financial struggles as they searched for a rewarding job. The other thing to consider is the type of job being landed by each student. It’s wrong to assume that every student who reports employment is doing so after landing a job in their chosen field. Some students may be employed part-time or full-time in unrelated, low-paying industries, but the placement rate wouldn’t show this type of information.
Beyond Job Placement: Other Statistics Used to Demonstrate Quality
Career placement is a great statistic to check before choosing and applying to a specific university, but it doesn’t paint a clear picture of the school’s quality. In fact, it doesn’t even paint a clear picture of each student’s occupational satisfaction. There are other metrics that will more easily describe the school’s quality and how well its programs resonate with students.
The first of these statistics is the first-year student retention rate. This percentage rate shows how many first-year students came back to the school for a second year of study, and how many left the school either due to bad grades or because they transferred to a program that they considered better for their needs. The other metric worth considering is the school’s graduation rate. Typically, this is broken down into four-year, five-year, and six-year graduation percentages. If these percentages are high, it indicates that the vast majority of students stuck around, graduated on time, and moved on. If it is low, this indicates that many students transferred to other schools, dropped out, or didn’t find the program valuable.
One Metric Among Many: Consider More than Just the Placement Rate
Career placement is an important part of attending a strong university, but it’s not the only way to judge whether a university’s programs are of the highest quality. In addition to researching a school’s job placement rate, make sure to find out how many students come back for a second year at the school, and look into how many students actually graduate within four, five, or six years of their initial enrollment.