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Study shows significant majority of Appalachian State University students employed or continuing their education within a year of graduation

By Jeff Cloninger

BOONE, N.C.—Key data are being tracked regarding the success of Appalachian State University students after they graduate, and the initial results are promising. A recent study found that 85 percent of undergraduate and nearly 100 percent of graduate alumni, tracked from Appalachian’s 2015 graduating class, were either employed or enrolled in some level of post-secondary education within one year of graduation.

View PDF (766K)Career Development Center by the Numbers. View PDF (766K)

“Affordability, accessibility and student success are critical drivers for every initiative we undertake at Appalachian,” Chancellor Sheri N. Everts said. “This important research tells us we are on the right track. I commend our faculty and staff for their efforts on behalf of our students and congratulate our graduates for their perseverance and accomplishments.”

The tracking effort is being led by Dr. Susan McCracken, director of Career Development and Economic Engagement, and Heather Langdon, director of Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning at Appalachian.

To track how many graduates were employed or pursuing additional post-secondary education within a year of graduation, McCracken, Langdon, and their colleagues used standards developed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) in this organization’s First Destination Project. According to its web site, NACE consists of more than10,000 college services professionals, university relations and recruiting professionals, and business affiliates. Their First Destination project is a national effort by campuses to track what students are doing immediately after graduation, referred to as their “first destination.”

Multiple data sources were used to track students after graduation from Appalachian. These included student surveys, alumni follow-up reports, LinkedIn data, and National Student Clearinghouse enrollment verification. Appalachian’s team was able to track 77 percent of graduates who had pursued an undergraduate degree and 55 percent of those who received graduate degrees for a total of 73 percent tracked (3,243 out of 4,437 total graduates). This is above the national standard for tracking, which is around 65 percent.

These data reveal that a sizeable majority of Appalachian graduates are contributing to society through employment or are preparing to do so through additional education. For this first study, data were not collected on whether the employment was full-time or part-time.

The Career Development Center and the Office of Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning at Appalachian have already begun collecting data on the 2016 graduates, and according to McCracken, “additional information is being gathered that will provide greater knowledge about the career, service and education pathways that Appalachian alumni are pursuing.” The 2016 report will be completed in spring 2017.

About Appalachian

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

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