Posted 3:11 p.m. Monday, Jan. 24, 2022

87 % of 2015 graduates were satisfied with their careers five years after graduation. This is higher than peer and national averages. Source: National Alumni Career Mobility Survey.

Study shows UWL graduates are prepared and satisfied with careers five and ten years out

A new survey of UW-La Crosse alumni found they have a high degree of satisfaction with their educational experience and careers after graduation. Not only that, they rate their satisfaction at levels higher than averages from peer universities and universities nationwide. 

The 2020 National Alumni Career Mobility (NACM) survey found that 84 % of 2010 graduates and 87 % of 2015 graduates were satisfied with their career five and ten years after graduation. Nationally and among peer groups those percentages were 83% and 80 %, respectively. 

“Overall, the survey results are very positive — not only when comparing UWL with peer and national results, but also when you look at how the responses are increasingly getting better between 2010 and 2015,” notes Becky Vianden, UWL director of Academic Advising & Career Services

UW System provided funding for all UW System campuses to conduct the NACM survey with their undergraduate alumni from 2010 and 2015 to better understand their career outcomes and trajectory after graduation. This is one of the first opportunities campuses have had to obtain system-wide longitudinal data about how graduates progress in their careers.  

How they rate their UWL experience

89 % of 2015 graduates said they were satisfied with their bachelor's degree experience. This is higher than peer and national averages. Source: National Alumni Career Mobility Survey.

UWL graduates also responded positively about their experience while on campus with 89 % of 2015 graduates and 88 % of 2010 graduates indicating they were satisfied with their bachelor’s degree experience. 

The satisfaction students report about their bachelor’s degree experience mirrors what UWL students report on the 2020 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), notes Natalie Solverson, UWL director of Institutional Research Assessment and Planning. When asked if they would probably or definitely attend UWL again, 84 % of first-year students and 90 % of seniors said they would. 

“This new survey reinforces that students see a UWL education as very valuable and it is a positive and worthwhile experience,” says Solverson. 

More survey results

88 % of 2015 graduates said their bachelor's degree helped them get started in their career. This is higher than peer and national averages. Source: National Alumni Career Mobility Survey.

Among other results the 2020 NACM survey found that: 

  • 71 % of 2010 graduates said their bachelor’s degree helped them get started in their career and 88 % of 2015 grads said their degree helped them get started. 
  • 81 % of 2010 graduates and 90 % of 2015 graduates said the career advice they’ve received has been helpful. 
  • 75 % of 2010 graduates and 77 % of 2015 graduates said they had advanced in their career as they had hoped. 

Results show graduates are leaving prepared and continuing to grow while in their field, says Brenda Leahy, interim assistant director of UWL Academic Advising and Career Services. 

Importance of faculty mentorship 

The survey also revealed that career development is a campus-wide effort. About 80 % of graduates reported receiving career advice from a faculty member, demonstrating how important faculty are in students’ career discovery and planning. Meanwhile, students have also increased their contact with UWL Career Services with a 4 % point increase in receiving career advice from Career Services between 2010 and 2015. 

Career Services is continually working to build relationships with faculty. Faculty can reach out to Academic Advising & Career Services for resources or to ask staff to present to classes on creating resumes, cover letters, job search, what to do with a particular major and more.  

What skills are students learning? 

Average alumni-reported competency scores for UWL compared to peer and national averages.

UWL students consider themselves to have developed certain competencies that national employers have highlighted as being critical to success in the workforce, according to NACM survey results. At UWL these competencies are collectively called the Eagle Advantage. The skills are adaptability; collaboration & leadership; communication; critical thinking & problem solving; digital literacy & technology; engaging diversity; integrity & accountability; and self management. UWL graduates rated themselves higher than peer and national averages on 10 of the 14 competencies. 

Survey of 2011 and 2016 grads is underway 

UWL is now continuing the survey with 2011 and 2016 UWL graduates now through mid-January. Anyone from these classes is asked to share about their professional journey since leaving campus. Responses will help improve the quality of programs for future alumni. Those who complete the survey will be entered into a drawing to win UWL alumni swag or a $50 gift card! The survey takes approximately 7-10 minutes and information is confidential. 

Staff from IRAP, Career Services, Alumni Association, and University Communications were involved with CLC in survey set-up and promotion. The survey was administered in Fall 2020 by Career Leadership Collective (CLC). 

Read more stories from the January eLantern.