The Office of Personal and Career Development (OPCD) recently released data gathered from members of the class of 2015 revealing that 98 percent of graduates are either enrolled in graduate school or employed.
This data comes from a survey sent to all graduates and is based off of 90 percent of graduates who sent the survey back.
According to DeeDe Pinckney, the assistant director of marketing and communication for the OPCD, this knowledge rate is above the minimum required by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
“For NACE, the minimum acceptable knowledge rate that they set is 65 percent,” Pinckney said. “We are well above that and have been above that for at least the last three years. We have been keeping up with our knowledge rate and the outcome rate has stayed close to the same, but has moved up some over the past three years.”
While the positive results from the study have reflected well on the university in past months, the method of collecting these results is also drawing attention.
“Pinckney and the OPCD have received industry attention for the way that we actually collect our student data and are recognized for their work on the first destination survey,” said Mercy Eyadiel, the Associate Vice President of Career Development and Corporate Engagement. “We have a 90 percent knowledge rate — that is unheard of — and that is the highest we have ever had.”
Eyadiel attributes the success of the OPCD survey to “Pinckney and the coaching team really knowing our students and taking a proactive effort to stay informed about student outcomes.”
Eyadiel contrasted Wake Forest’s first destination survey with that of other universities.
“We really have a student-centric focus that I think is distinct to Wake Forest,” she said. “I have worked at Vanderbilt and Stanford and both of those are great institutions, but even they do not have the kind of outcomes that we have — in the time frame that we have it. I think that that says something about our culture and how we are aligned in that way.
“We are tracking [the first destination for graduates] much more thoroughly than it was tracked in the past,” said Kate Brooks, Executive Director of Personal and Career Development. “One of the things that differentiates it from the past is NACE. They have a recommended system for doing it so we are doing it much more intentionally.”
According to the OPCD, some new programs that help students network and gain employment include Handshake and Marketplace, which help improve the employment and graduate school attendance rates. They are designed to help connect students with internship and employment opportunities.
Though the overall percentage of students employed or enrolled in graduate school was 98 percent for the class of 2015, the OPCD does not track the rate by specific major.
“We don’t look at that exactly, and one of the philosophies of the office is that we encourage students to look beyond just their majors,” Pinckney said. “Their majors don’t limit their future destination or first employment.”
Rather than focus on gaining employment in the major they graduate in, the OPCD focuses on what each individual student wants to do after graduation.
“The idea is we do not think about a career as whether or not it’s related to a specific major,” Brooks said. “What we focus on more is where our students want to go and we help them get there — regardless of major.”