Position Statements

Position Statement: The Critical Importance of Institutional First-Destination/Post-Graduation Surveys

NACE recognizes the important public discourse regarding the escalating cost of higher education and the perceived returns on the significant investment in time, effort, and resources expended by college students and their families. This is reflected in part, for example, by the White House’s College Scorecard initiative. The association further acknowledges the growing importance of institutional outcome assessment efforts as they relate to improving higher education organizational performance and achieving regional and academic program accreditation standards. 

In support of these vital issues, NACE expects that all higher education institutions will assess the career and employment outcomes for their graduates through a first-destination/post-graduation survey. These surveys are designed to understand more about the employment and continuing education goals and activities of college graduates, providing important information to help inform prospective students and their families as well as the general public about post-graduation outcomes. 

NACE advocates the following principles in conducting first-destination surveys: 

  1. Helping students achieve post-graduate success is a critical part of the mission of the entire institution.
  2. Higher education institutions should be focused on obtaining information from all institutional graduates.
  3. The career services organization should have an integral role—in collaboration with other university units (e.g. academic departments; alumni relations offices)—in collecting and disseminating career outcome information.
  4. When reporting post-graduation career-related outcomes (commonly referred to as “placement”), these outcomes should include employment, year of service programs, volunteer opportunities, further academic study, and military service among other possibilities.
  5. Survey protocols should be consistent with college/university human subject requirements, and the college/university institutional research office should be aware of and involved with the first-destination survey as appropriate.
  6. Data may be collected from various sources in accordance with college/university protocols (e.g. student survey responses and other reliable sources). NACE expects employing organizations to assist in the collection of these data by working with the higher education community to expedite the sharing of any relevant employment information to which they have access, where possible.
  7. Data should be collected on an on-going basis with final collection efforts being completed approximately six to nine months after the graduation date.
  8. Graduating student career outcome reports should provide aggregate data maintaining the confidentiality of individuals and in accordance with college/university protocols governing these types of data.
  9. Graduating student career outcome reports should minimally include overall outcomes for the college/university and outcomes by academic program/unit including data response rates; job titles, hiring employer information, and aggregate salary data; and further academic study information, including institution and program of study. 

Colleges and universities are also encouraged to pursue longer-term studies of the career progression of their graduates to better assess graduate career outcomes over time.

July 2012