Report offers insights into Illinois students’ success after graduation

Oct 05, 2017 03:37 PM

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Analysis of a first-ever campuswide survey of recent Illinois graduates provides extensive information on where those students ended up after college. Released today, the Illini Success initiative invited 7,701 bachelor’s degree recipients in 2014-15 from nine Urbana campus academic schools or colleges to participate.

Combining the survey with other methods of collecting data, the report represents 5,737 of those graduates – more than 74 percent. In addition to the campuswide report, individual reports for each of the schools or colleges provide greater detail.

“This annual report is available for a variety of users to access,” said Gail S. Rooney, the associate dean of leadership and career development and the director of The Career Center. “The outcome stands as testament to the range of paths our recent graduates take after earning degrees, as well as the overall quality of the students who pass through these halls of learning.”

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Eighty-four percent of Illinois graduates indicated having secured a first destination within six months of graduation. Graduates from all colleges reported strong rates of securing a first destination – defined as employment (reported by 70 percent of those securing a destination), continued education (29 percent) or a volunteer position (1 percent). Reported success rates ranged from 77 percent for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to 95 percent for the School of Social Work. The report demonstrates that trends toward employment or continuing education vary by college and major.
  • Seventy percent of Illinois graduates who secured a first destination were employed. Of those, 77 percent held traditional jobs, including military service. Eleven percent were defined as transitional (temporary employees or contract workers, or engaged in a postgraduate internship or fellowship). Four percent were deemed entrepreneurial, meaning they owned a startup, worked as freelancers or were self-employed.
  • Seventy percent of employed graduates said their jobs were located in Illinois, with another 10 percent remaining in the Midwest (excluding Illinois). One percent of reported employment was international, with 27 nations listed.

The report includes racial demographics of participants and the distribution of starting salaries across the nine schools or colleges. It also lists the leading employers of Illinois graduates and higher education institutions that enroll graduates in graduate degree programs. Correlations are shown between starting job searches early and securing employment.

“We are particularly excited about the release of the Illini Success report and website because of the story they tell about the accomplishments of Illinois graduates,” said Julia Panke Makela, the associate director for assessment and research at The Career Center and the project lead for the Illini Success initiative. “The report shows the concrete numbers, employer names, graduate programs, and volunteer and service organizations where graduates are making a difference. The graduate success stories on the website provide insight and reflection from Illinois graduates as they share their journeys and provide advice to current students.”  

The release of the Illini Success website today is considered a beginning for the initiative. “This is the first of what we expect will be a long run of annual reports. The process of collecting data for next year’s analysis has already begun,” Rooney said. “Anyone who is inquisitive about the role our campus plays in the local and national economy would benefit from this concise, visually driven report.” Additional data displays and resources are planned in the coming year in order to support current students with career exploration.

The report draws from the experiences of those who completed undergraduate degrees in August 2014, December 2014 and May 2015. The primary method of data collection was an online survey. Other information was provided by employers, the schools and colleges, or culled from career-oriented social media.

No personal information is included in the report. Outcomes are reported only for groups of 20 graduates or more.

CONTACT: Julia Makela, associate director for assessment and research, The Career Center, 217-244-2457;