CAPS distributes fourth-year survey

By Andrew Moesel

As fourth-years in the College approach graduation, Career and Placement Services (CAPS) conducted an online survey last week to better understand the immediate future of the outgoing class.

The survey, created with help from several administrative offices and student groups, asked the class of 2003 about their plans for June and beyond, separating future plans into three groups: job holder, graduate student, and none of the above.

University officials said the survey was designed to help track the correlation between students’ areas of interest while at college and the fields in which these students end up when they leave the University. The information will be used to inform both prospective and College students about patterns of career choices that appear among students in certain concentrations.

“I think I speak for the whole College when I say that we are tired of not being able to answer questions about what students do after they graduate,” said CAPS director Liz Michaels. “We don’t have great answers to these kinds of questions. We have anecdotal information about certain students, but that is not really what people are looking for.”

The data will be compiled over the next few months and partial results will be posted online in the fall. A final analysis of the data is expected to be complete in early 2004.

Although the tallying process is still in its fledgling stages, some officials speculated that the portion of students currently in the undecided category would be larger than in past years, citing the poor economy as a pivotal factor.

“It’s harder to get jobs, which means more people are applying to graduate school, which in turn makes graduate school acceptance much harder because so many people are applying,” Michaels said.

The initial survey Web page asked students to enter their student login name and Cnet ID, then select whether they will be working at a job, attending graduate school, or are uncertain about their plans for next year. Different sets of basic questions corresponding to a student’s selection then appeared, such as the name of one’s employer or academic institution.

According to Michaels, it is unclear how many fourth-years completed the survey page, though 850 of them passed through it.

Students who selected the third option were asked to complete an additional survey in six months to gage any progress in their career search. These results will then be added to the larger pool and posted with the completed analysis early next year.

The results will also be utilized in a number of different ways to develop an informed relationship between current students and the non-University working world, according to University officials.

“It will help provide us with more information about the kinds of places our students are going when they graduate so we can provide information to current students,” said Bill Michel, deputy dean of student in the College. “But also allow us to use the information to help target types of companies that do recruitment on campus, and programs that offer to help prepare students for a variety of fields.”

Many universities have conducted similar surveys and, though the University’s survey is not based on any specific model, administrators said they had communicated with other schools to acquire information about the process.

CAPS plans to conduct a similar survey in the fall, targeting returning students, regarding their summer experiences. The survey is intended to elicit the same type of information as the fourth-year exit survey. Officials hope that the data acquired will help educate current students about getting internships and visiting travel destinations during the summer months.

Both surveys are part of a long-term goal to establish a senior mentorship program that would pair younger students with upperclassmen interested in similar academic and extracurricular pursuits.

“Let’s say you wanted to go to Guatemala, you’d need to know where to go, what to eat, and what kinds of shoes to wear. The program would help you find an older student who had been to Latin America and could tell you exactly what kinds of shoes you need,” Michaels said.

CAPS administrators also hope the survey will boost involvement in their Alumni Networking Program, where alumni volunteer their personal information to provide vital contact within various industries. The survey asks students to sign up for the program, and officials said the response has been positive.

“We’ve had more people sign up to the Alumni Network than in the past, so based on what I’ve heard from CAPS, it sounds like the survey went very well,” Michel said.