The unusual and uncertain times experienced by the college Class of 2021 in its final year was reflected in its outcomes, which improved from last year, but remained down from pre-pandemic levels, according to NACE’s First Destinations for the College Class of 2021 report.
The outcomes rate for the Class of 2021 was 84.1%, a gain from what was reported for the Class of 2020 (82.4%, the lowest recorded rate in the history of the report), but off from where graduates were pre-COVID. The Class of 2019 posted an outcomes rate of 86.0%, and the Class of 2018 wasn’t far behind with a rate of 85.7%.
This pattern repeats in terms of full-time employment: 55.3% of the Class of 2021 was employed full time within six months of graduation, which is better than that for the Class of 2020 (53.6%), but trailed the Class of 2019 (59.7%) and the Class of 2018 (58.7%). The current crop also surpassed their 2020 peers in terms of standard full-time employment (51.9% versus 50.2%), but fell well short of the Class of 2019 (55.5%) and the Class of 2018 (54.5%).
A greater percentage of the Class of 2021 did opt to pursue further education than in the three preceding classes. Among Class of 2021 graduates, 21.6% reported that they are continuing their education after receiving their bachelor’s degree compared with 21.1% from the Class of 2020, 18.6% from the Class of 2019, and 19.2% from the Class of 2018.
The First Destinations for the College Class of 2021 report is available on NACEWeb and includes an interactive dashboard. It is the eighth in a series that began with the college class of 2014. Data collection on outcomes took place from the date of graduation until six months after the end of the class year, which ends June 30. Schools had until December 30, 2021, to collect data from their 2021 graduates. This means that all results reported in the study are as of December 30, 2021. Participating institutions reported their data to NACE from January 5, 2021, through May 16, 2021. Overall, 293 schools provided information about their 2021 graduates in four degree levels—associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral-level programs. In total, the graduating classes of these reporting institutions represent approximately 686,000 graduates. Results for previous classes can be accessed on the NACE website.