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CU-Boulder One-Year-Out Alumni Survey Results: 1998 and 1999
In 1998, CCHE (the Colorado Commission on Higher Education) began
requiring institutions to survey undergraduate and graduate alumni
who had received degrees one year prior. For the first year, CCHE
provided the questionnaire items and a specified format for reporting
the labor-force results. In 1999 CCHE dropped the requirement. CU-Boulder,
however, decided to continue to collect and report on this information,
and to look at how the 1999 findings compare to the 1998 results.
In spring of 1998 CU-Boulder's office of planning, budget, and
analysis surveyed a sample of bachelor's and post-bachelor's degree
recipients who graduated between summer 1996 and spring 1997. In
1999 we surveyed bachelor's and post-bachelor's recipients who graduated between
summer 1997 and spring1998. The one-page, self-mailing questionnaire
consists of seven questions about current employment, further education,
and satisfaction with degree program. The questionnaire
used in 1999 was identical to the original one used in 1998.
- In spring of 1999, about one-quarter of the probably-reachable
survey sample of both undergraduate and graduate alumni
responded to the One-Year-Out Alumni survey. This was about 4
percentage points lower than the response rate obtained for both
groups in 1998.
- Results for both bachelor's and post-bachelor's recipients have
changed little between 1998 and 1999. .In both years, undergraduate
and graduate alumni have been quite positive about their current
status in the workforce and how their educational goals were met
by their degree program at CU-Boulder.
- They have been pleased with how their program of study at
UCB helped then get or retain their current job. In both 1998
and 1999, 84% of bachelor's and 93% of post-bachelor's recipients
said their program of study helped them get or keep their
- In both 1998 and 1999, approximately 98% of both bachelor's
and post-bachelor's recipients said their UCB program of study
"somewhat" or "definitely" met their educational
- Only two slight changes in results between 1998 and 1999 were
- Bachelor's recipients in 1999 were more likely than 1998
bachelor's recipients to say their program "definitely"
helped them get or keep their current employment.
- In 1999, both bachelor's and post-bachelor's recipients were
more likely to say that their program of student "defnitely"
met their educational goals than they were in 1998..
Population, sample and response rates
The population consisted of all degree recipients who graduated
during the specified period. Our "survey population" was recipients
for whom the alumni foundation had purportedly current addresses
on file; in 1998 this was approximately 90% of all degree recipients.
We sampled those who had non-missing address information, drawing
roughly equal numbers of bachelor's ('98, n=816, '99 n=888) and post-bachelor's
('98, n=785, '99, n=794) degree recipients in each survey year.
Even though the alumni foundation addresses were considered current,
the proportion of mailings returned with unknown addresses was quite
high, especially for the bachelor's degree recipients (17% in '98,
14% in '99, versus 9% in '98 and 12.5% in '99 for post-bachelors).
For this reason, we present the response rate as the percentage
responding of the undergraduate and graduate samples with known
good addresses -- i.e., those whose mailed questionnaires were not
returned to us by the post office.
In the last survey cycle questionnaires were mailed on March 10,
1999. A reminder postcard was sent to all sample members six days
later, and a re-mail of the questionnaire was sent to non-respondents
six weeks after the initial mailing. This method achieved an overall
response rate of 26% for the undergraduate alumni and 28% for
the graduate alumni, which is between 10-15 percentage points
lower* than what we would have expected
from experience, given the two follow-ups, and a slight drop from
See the table of population, sample and response
Survey respondents represent only about 25% of the probably-reachable
survey sample for both bachelor's and post-bachelor's degree recipients,
and we cannot judge how non-respondents and unreachables might differ
from those who did respond. In addition, we have good reason to
believe that many CU-Boulder alumni do not settle into their eventual
employment, or even start to pursue further study, until more than
one year after graduation. This is characteristic of any university
with large numbers of students in liberal arts as opposed to professional
fields. Therefore, we urge great caution in interpreting the results
Summary of 1998 and 1999 findings--for bachelor's and
post-bachelor's recipients---by item
Overall, the Tables of Results
show that both undergraduate and graduate alumni's responses have
changed little between 1998 and 1999. All results for 1998 and 1999
are discussed in detail in this section, in order of item number.
Although little significant change was detected between years, patterns
of change from one year to the next and differences in how bachelor's
versus post-bachelor's degree recipients answered each item across
the two years are discussed. The two items showing a significant
change are discussed in more detail in the last section below.
- Approximately one-quarter of one-year-out bachelor's degree
recipients in both 1998 and 1999 were enrolled or admitted to
a graduate-level degree granting institution at the time of the
- About 15% of post-bachelor's degree recipients, in both years,
had gone on for further education at this point.
- In both years, bachelor's degree recipients were enrolled in
or admitted to the following areas of study: 8% in medicine, 4-6% in law, 1-2%
in business, and 15% in all other areass.
- About 15% of bachelor's and 12-17% of post-bachelor's degree recipients
were enrolled in "other" post-graduate degree programs
in these two years (which were described in the questionnaire
as "engineering, humanities, social science, natural science,
- The field of medicine and health was the second most frequently chosen category
by bachelor's degree recipients (8%) in both years and by post-bachelor's recipients (2%) in 1999.
Questions 1,3, and 4 combined:
- In both years, one-year-out post-bachelor's degree recipients
have had a slightly larger presence in the workforce than
bachelor's degree recipients (1998: post-BAs 80%, BAs 73%; 1999:
post-BAs 83%, BAs 79%).
- There was a very slight increase in the percentage of
both bachelor's and post-bachelor's degree recipients involved in
the workforce between 1998 and 1999.
- The presence of one-year-out bachelor's recipients in the workforce increased
by 6 percentage points between 1998 (73%) and 1999 (79%). Post-bachelor's recipients
in the workforce increased by 3 percentage points between 1998
(80%) and 1999 (83%). These increases were largely due to an
increase in the regular full-time workforce participation rate
for both bachelor's and post-bachelor's degree recipients between
1998 and 1999.
- In 1999, 4% of both bachelor's and post-bachelor's recipients were unemployed
and seeking employment.
Questions 1,3, and 4--by enrolled/not:
This table shows the same information and trends as the one above,
with additional enrollment status information. One slight change
worth noting in the additional data is:
- A slightly higher proportion of "enrolled" bachelor's
degree recipients (16%) were working in the regular workforce
part-time in 1999 compared to1998 bachelor's survey respondents
- For those working 30 or more hours per week when we surveyed them,
post-bachelor's degree recipients obtained their jobs faster
than bachelor's degree recipients in both years. On average, 45%
of employed bachelor's recipients obtained their first job by the
time they graduated, versus 55-60% of employed post-bachelor's
- Approximately 70% of post-bachelor's degree recipients in both
1998 and 1999 said that their UCB program of study "definitely
helped" them to get and/or retain their current job.
- For bachelor's degree recipients, there was a statistically significant
increase in the percent who said their program of study "definitely" helped
them to get and/or retain their job: from 43% in 1998 to 54% in 1999).
- In both 1998 and 1999 more post-bachelor's degree recipients
(avg: 93%) than bachelor's degree recipients (avg: 70%) have been
in a job that is in the "same" field or in a field "related" to
their program of study.
- For the bachelor's recipients, an average of 15% in both years have said
they are in a different field "by choice" and another 15% have
said they are in a different field "not by choice." For the post-bachelor's recipients,
these proportions are much smaller--with about 3% saying they
are in a different field "by choice" and another 3% in a different
field "not by choice."
This question, on meeting educational goals, was answered by all
survey respondents. Results showed a significant increase between
1998 and 1999 of both bachelor's and post-bachelor's degree recipients
saying that their program of study "definitely" met their educational
- 57% of bachelor's recipients in 1999 said their program of study
"definitely" met their educational goals, up from 47%
in 1998; and 65% of post-bachelor's recipients in 1999 reported this, up from
54% in 1998.
Open-ended comments for Question 7,
meeting educational goals -- 1999 results only:
- 27% of the bachelor's degree respondents commented on the rating
they gave to this item, and 17% of post-bachelor's respondents provided
a comment on question 7.
- For both bachelor's and post-bachelor's recipients, approximately one-third
of the comments were from those who reported that their program
"definitely" met their goals, and about two-thirds
were from those who reported that their program "somewhat"
met their educational goals. Less than 10% of the comments from
both bachelor's and post-bachelor's recipients were from those who said their
program did not meet their educational goals.
- Comments from those who reported their educational goals were
"definitely" met were mostly positive (BAs: 80%, post-BAs:
100%). They included statements about how well their education
prepared them for their specific career or the working world--such
as the following:
- Post-BA alum: "I received an MS in Civil Engineering
with a concentration in Construction Management and am currently
employed as a construction manager in the Denver area. My
degree is 100% the reason for my current employment and I
am very satisfied with the euducation I received."
- Post-BA alum: "My undergrad experience and relationships
I made with professors got me into grad school, which got
me into a career. My grad program was excellent."
- BA alum: "I was a biology major and now I'm working
in an immunology lab and applying to medical school."
- BA alum: "I believe I got the most out of CU. The Psychology
department is outstanding, which certainly strengthened my
grad school applications (I'm in a PhD program in Social Psychology).
I absolutely loved my psych classes and apply what I learned
at CU every day."
- Comments for both bachelor's and post-bachelor's recipients who said their
educational program "somewhat" met their goals were
about half positive and half negative. In fact, many of the responses
mentioned both good and bad aspects of the former student's educational
experience at CU-Boulder or of the outcome of that experience.
- Post-BA alum: "I believe the Telecom program to be
great for interdisciplinary education (which it is); but it
is lacking in the more technical, networking type of classes."
- Post-BA alum: "Didn't think the teaching staff was
"top-notch." Seemed as if the "tenure"
staff was the worst. Grad students and new professors were
most helpful. ..."
- BA alum: "The BA program in Psychology does not have
much relevant clinical or applied information -- that would
have been very useful to have!"
- BA alum: "More emphasis on internships, how your degree
applies to real life, resume writing for your specific degree,
companies in the area who hire from your degree, etc. - are
needed!! We need ways to communicate with alumni who have
graduated in the same field!"
Highlights of Major Changes between 1998 and 1999
Although little change was noted in how alumni responded between
the first and second survey year, two of the survey items, as noted
above, showed a significant increase in the proportion of alumni
in 1999 compared to 1998, who were "definitely" satisfied
with how their educational program had served them.
- For Question 5: "Has your
educational program helped you get or keep your current employment?"
- The 1999 bachelor's degree recipients (54%)
were more likely than 1998 bachelor's degree recipients (43%)
to say that their program had "definitely" helped them
to keep their current employment.
- For Question 7: "Overall,
did your program of study at CU-Boulder meet your educational
- A higher percentage of both 1999 bachelor's
(57%) and post-bachelor's (65%) degree recipients
were more likely to say that their program of study "definitely"
met their educational goals than were 1998 bachelor's (47%)
and post-bachelors (54%) recipients.
- The inter-relatedness of these two items and the pattern of
improvement noted between 1998 and 1999 may represent
a real increase in the applicability of one-year-out alumni's
degree programs to their current employment. It may also be affected
by the slight increase in the proportion of both bachelor's and
post-bachelor's survey respondents who are currently in the workforce
(see bullet 3, in section above: Qs1,3,4-combined).
- However, we cannot know if these increases are real or due to
the more positive (perhaps, more "employed") sample
members responding to the survey.
Although response rates for the One-Year-Out Alumni survey have
been much lower than desirable for both 1998 and 1999, we still
think the survey provides valuable information on what recent
CU-Boulder graduates are doing when they leave college and on
how satisfied they are with the degree program they attended. Results
for both bachelor's and post-bachelor's degree recipients have also
been very consistent across the two years.
Thus we plan to continue to administer the survey every other
spring, and add to our time series. These data will allow us to
look at any trends occuring within these two populations. The time
series will also provide a source of information for our institution
and others on what CU-Boulder graduates are doing one year after
For a more indepth look at what CU-Boulder's undergraduate alumni are doing four years after they graduate,
see the1998 Four-Year-Out Alumni survey report, which also includes
changes over time in results from survey years 1990 through 1998.
*Footnote: Response rates
(rr) in both 1998 and 1999 were lower than what we expected from
experience. The response rates for 1999 were also slightly lower
than those for 1998. We suspect at least two factors may have contributed
to these low responses rates.
- In both years, the proportion with bad addresses may have been
even larger than that determined from post office returns.
- In 1999, we sent out the re-mail two weeks later than we'd initially
planned. Normally the re-mail is sent four weeks after the initial
mailing. This later mail-out date apparently contributed to lowering
the response rates even further from what we obtained in 1998
(bachs: '98 rr=29%, '99 rr=25.5%; post-bachs: '98 rr=32%, '99
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