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  • Collecting Graduating Student Outcomes:
    First-Destination Survey Initiative for the Class of 2014

    by Mimi Collins
    NACE Journal, September 2014

    For the first time, NACE-member colleges and universities have the opportunity to collect and report graduate outcomes data using the same definitions, time frames, and parameters.

    More than 250 institutions have indicated formally that they plan to collect and report outcomes data for Class of 2014 graduates using the NACE First-Destination Survey Standards and Protocols, and others are expected to take part.

    The aggregated data will provide for trends analysis. Results, plus analysis, of the first effort will be featured in a special session at the NACE 2015 Conference & Expo in Anaheim.

    Who is part of the Class of 2014?

    Checklist for a Successful Effort


    Collect outcomes data on an ongoing basis.

    This will make it easier for you to build a critical mass of outcomes information about the graduating class. It’s best to begin collecting data before students leave campus, as you will likely have more opportunities to connect with them. Pre-graduation surveys also can be “forced,” as you may have some options for requiring them to complete a survey, i.e., in order to pick up their cap and gown.


    Collect data from multiple sources.

    Go beyond the traditional survey to collect information from employers, faculty, and other campus offices, and check social media for data. As long as the information is reliable and verifiable, these are acceptable methods.


    Educate your campus stakeholders on the initiative, why it matters, how it benefits your institution.

    Share the whys with administrators, faculty, and staff alike. Let students know—in advance—what you are doing and why.


    Reach out to campus partners.

    Other offices may have an interest in the data as well, and you can help each other achieve goals. Look at how the effort can help your partners, or what additional data you might collect that would benefit them. You want to answer their likely question—What’s in it for me?


    Look for opportunities to build buy-in.

    Use the data you collect to illustrate the value of your institution to your stakeholders. This can go a long way toward gaining support from administrators, faculty, and others.


    Make it someone’s job.

    Give someone on staff responsibility for translating the data into meaningful trends or analysis that resonates with your stakeholders.


    Share your information.

    Make your information available to all; the more others see the value of the information, the more likely they will be to support your efforts.

    This year, data for associate and bachelor's degree grads

    Timeline for Reporting Outcomes Data

    Knowledge rate, not response rate. Career outcome rate, not placement rate.


    Mimi Collins is NACE director of communications. She can be reached at

    Copyright 2014 by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. All rights reserved.