Questions to Ask Colleges About Their Graduates

What questions should you ask colleges about their colleges?

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Student life, campus atmosphere and academic opportunities are all vital aspects of a college’s make-up. But when you’re looking at colleges, remember: the college experience itself is only a few years. What will happen after you graduate and launch into the world? For every college on your list, dig around to see how their graduates fare on these indicators.

How many graduates are employed or in graduate school within one year of graduation?

Schools should keep track of graduate outcomes and immediate post-college success—the more thorough the report, the better. Every school will have a few exceptions pushing its rate below 100%, but examine these numbers closely. How many graduates are working in their field of interest? How many are looking for better jobs? If you already have a program in mind, pay special attention to graduates from your field of study.

What graduate schools are they attending?

Consider especially those graduate schools with some status of prestige, and whether the school has sent more than one graduate there. If you already have interest in a particular graduate school or type of graduate program, notice whether graduates from your prospective undergrad have gone on to similar programs.

Who are their employers?

What kind of businesses, school districts and agencies are impressed by the school’s outcomes? If you graduate from this school, will you join an alumni workforce in well known, ethical and stable companies? Look for names you recognize from your home city or research you’ve done on potential careers. When you’re job-searching after graduation, sharing an alma mater with your interviewer or coming from a school that the company knows well may get you far.

Do graduates give back to the school?

When a graduate donates to their alma mater, it indicates they’ve had some positive connection with the school and want to see it successful in the future. They invest in another generation of students participating in the education structure that brought them success.

How active is the alumni association?

Much like donating, graduates who eagerly participate in their alumni association likely had a positive experience at the school. Active alumni associations tell stories of graduates, organize alumni events across the country (or around the world) and advocate for alumni on the school’s campus. They often provide resources to graduates long after they’ve left the school and entered the “real” world. Look for schools that will provide a great education while you earn your degree—and keep supporting you for the rest of your life.

Does the college take pride in its graduates?

On the campus, in mailings or on the school’s website, is it easy to find stories about alumni? Schools take pride in their graduates and are eager to share their work in the world. Keep an eye out for alumni stories that reflect your career interests and goals.

When looking for colleges, you’ll find that elements like student life and study abroad opportunities answer your short-term questions. But if you’re looking for a better idea of the long-term benefits of a school, look into its graduates. The best schools will be eager to share graduate success and alumni stories.

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Gwyneth Findlay

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