As more colleges and universities look for ways to show the value of higher education, first-destination surveys can be a great way to show prospective students how recent alumni have fared following graduation. However, getting a meaningful number of students to participate in these surveys can be a labor-intensive and time-consuming task for career centers.
With that in mind, as the fall 2023 semester gets underway, NACE members have begun planning for this annual process, and many members shared their tips and best practices in the NACE Community.
Overall, three main areas of focus emerged for career centers looking to increase response rates:
- Communicating regularly with students about the importance of the surveys and completion reminders;
- Providing participation incentives; and
- Ensuring the process is convenient for students.
Michael Webb, director of career development at the Miami University Farmer School of Business, says he has seen success in response rates by clearly communicating the importance of the data to students and sending reminders throughout the semester.
“With the business school, showing need is fairly easy, because [graduating students] are hammered for four years about the importance of data, and its role in driving policy and decision making,” Webb posted in the Community. “We push for our undergrads to enter their preference and internship data, and explain that this can help us better serve them by reaching out to companies in locations and industries that they are interested in. We push for our new grads to enter info by explaining how it helps us see trends, check for salary parity, and create networking opportunities.”
In addition to providing students with an explanation about the importance of completing their surveys, many schools also offer incentives ranging from gift cards to school-related swag.
“We have a ‘graduation celebration’ week near the end of each semester where we ask students to complete the survey and we give them swag from career development and the alumni association, snacks included,” Julie Caldwell, director of career development at University of Saint Francis, shared.
“[N]ew this year, we set up a table outside of cap and gown pickup and that generated a huge boost in numbers,” Burrell posted. “We are a very small institution, so this might not be feasible at every level, but as others mentioned already, wherever you can fold FDS data collection into something that students are already required or highly motivated to do, that is where I have seen the best boost in initial responses.”
NACE members who would like to share their tips and best practices can do so on the NACE Community.