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Seniors' Future Plans Survey, Spring 2013 Posted August 23, 2013

3,455   graduating seniors invited
    1,612   responded
       47%   response rate
1,333   students gave comments about their university experience

We have asked CU-Boulder seniors about their future plans in annual spring surveys since 2008. This assessment was either included as part of a comprehensive Senior Survey (2008, 2012) or in a very short Seniors' Future Plans Survey administered to graduating seniors (2009-2011 and 2013).

Seniors' After-Graduation Plans

The great majority of seniors graduating from CU-Boulder in spring 2013 reported that they plan to be either employed (69%) or attending graduate or professional school (14%) following graduation. Of the remaining graduating seniors: 3% expected to be in the military, doing volunteer work (e.g., Peace Corps), or pursuing additional undergraduate coursework; 3% were planning to travel; 4% expected to be engaged in student teaching or an internship; 4% were undecided; and 2% wrote in information about what they planned to be doing. These percentages are generally similar to those observed among graduating seniors in 2008-2012, as shown in the following graph. 


  • More than two-thirds (69%) of 2013 graduating seniors expected to be employed after graduating--the highest proportion over the past five years. Since 2009 there has been a steady increase in the percentage of graduating seniors anticipating post-graduation employment. The large drop in this percentage from 67% in 2008 to 58% in 2009 was likely connected with the financial market crash in fall 2008.
  • Lower proportions of seniors are entering graduate or professional school after receiving their CU-Boulder degree. As the proportion of seniors expecting to enter the work force has increased in the last few years, the proportion of those planning to attend graduate or professional school has shown a decreasing trend. From 2008 to 2011, proportions of seniors expecting to attend graduate/professional school declined only slightly: from 22% to 19%. In the most recent two years of data collection, however, there has been a notable drop in the percentage of seniors reporting that they expected to enter graduate/professional school: 13% and 14% in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
  • As more seniors are finding employment after graduation, fewer of them are planning to travel. The proportion of seniors electing to travel after graduation has declined over time--from 7% in 2009 and 2010, to 5%, 4%, and 3% in the last three respective years: 2011-2013.

Additional data on seniors' future plans are available in the following documents:

  • A companion graph to the one above includes 2013 data for all 12 response options for this survey item (e.g., full-time employment, part-time employment, full-time graduate/professional school).
  • By College/Division/Program (PDF): Summary of results by school/college/program and A&S division. Includes table and graphs of the percentages of respondents in each of these units who selected one of seven combined principal activity categories (e.g., any employment, any graduate/professional school, etc.). The table and graphs of all 12 response options for these units are provided in a separate PDF.
  • By ODA Department (PDF): Summary of results for 45 ODA departments. Includes table and graphs of the percentages of respondents in each of these units who selected one of seven combined principal activity categories (e.g., any employment, any graduate/professional school, etc.). The table and graphs of all 12 response options for these units are provided in a separate PDF.
  • Excel of cross-time results (2008-2013): Data are organized by year, school/college, A&S division, and program. Data are also available by year for male and female students and by year for six race/ethnicity groups, including international students. The Excel also includes a few comments made by 39 students who selected the "Other" option from the list of 12 response options.

Data on CU-Boulder seniors' future plans are also included in the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) College Portrait, a Web-based source of college information for prospective students and their parents that provides a range of basic information about the undergraduate student experience. This information is comparable across participating four-year public colleges and universities. See CU-Boulder’s College Portrait for various statistics about CU-Boulder, including seniors' future plans.

Questionnaire, Method, and Response Rates

A brief report (PDF) on the 2013 Seniors' Future Plans Survey method and response rates describes the web-based questionnaire, data collection, survey population, and response rates by college/school/program, by Arts & Sciences (A&S) division, and by department. The overall campus-wide response rate was 47%; response rates by department ranged from 17% to 78%.

Employment and Salary

We added two items to the survey questionnaire in 2013. Students who reported that their most likely principal activity in fall 2013 was likely to be either "Employment, full-time paid" or "Military service" were asked whether their prospective employment was related to their undergraduate field of study. We also asked them to report their expected salary.

Results for all seniors and by school/college, division and program are summarized in a short report (PDF). There was considerable variation in responses to these items across CU-Boulder colleges, Arts & Sciences divisions, schools, and programs.

Geographic Data - Including Employment in Colorado

A four-page report (PDF) on states where seniors graduated from high school and states where they expect to carry out their immediate post-graduation plans for employment, further education, etc. We collected this information in the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seniors' future plans surveys as well. The report includes comparisons of findings across the four survey years.

Browsers and Devices Used by Survey Respondents

Data on the browsers/devices that respondents used to take the 2013 Seniors' Future Plans Survey are available in a (PDF report). These data were collected from two sets of items on the survey that were hidden from the survey respondent. Tables in this report also show comparisons to the browser/device usage data collected from respondents to the CU-Boulder 2012 Senior Survey.

Student Comments

This is the third year we have collected data from an open-ended question, added to the Seniors' Future Plans Survey in 2010, that asked graduating seniors to "Please describe the ONE thing you think CU-Boulder should (or should not) do in the future to improve the university experience for students like you." The great majority (83%; N=1,333) of survey respondents answered this question. The data include both positive and negative comments on a variety of issues and experiences that were important to graduating seniors as they looked back on their entire university experience.

The topics mentioned in the seniors' comments varied widely in content. Many of the comments addressed academic issues such as positive or negative experiences with professors, instruction, the core curriculum, academic advising, etc., and other comments addressed a wide array of other topics, such as tuition increases, career services, the construction on campus, and various campus organizations, departments, and resources (e.g., the Conference on World Affairs, Norlin library, the UMC). Several example comments are provided below:

  • Evolutionary Biology senior: "Should continue to offer grants for undergraduate research. This opportunity made my experience great."
  • Geography senior: "More diversity! This place needs more perspectives and life experiences, in both students and teachers.”
  • French & Italian senior: "I feel that students with the appropriate grade point averages should be urged to complete an honors project. It is a great experience and very satisfying.”
  • Management senior: "More opportunities for interdisciplinary study.”
  • Psychology & Neuroscience senior: "Better advising- I have had 4 different advisors as a psychology major, and it was hard to adjust to each change."
  • English senior: "Provide better integration for incoming transfers."
  • Integrative Physiology senior:"Honestly, stop raising tuition. Have a locked tuition so that we could budget better over four years and not struggle to make ends meet because suddenly tuition was raised for the next year by x percentage. // Also, a lot of the money in the school is going towards things most students consider luxury instead of things that need immediate attention."
  • Civil, Environmental, & Architectural senior: "Nothing. It was awesome."

Students' verbatim written responses to this question are available to administrators and units on campus that can use them to implement and modify policies and programs associated with issues and concerns raised in the comments. The comments are provided in a password-protected Excel file accessible upon submission of a nondisclosure agreement. The Excel file includes respondents' college/school/program, Arts & Sciences division, academic department, and race/ethnicity.

Last revision 05/02/16

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