Editor's note: This story was originally published June 16, 2015.
In a Gallup survey examining the long-term success of college graduates across the country, University of Virginia alumni surpassed national averages in employment, engagement at work, well-being and attachment to their alma mater.
The survey included members of 65 graduating classes between 1950 and 2014 from colleges and universities across the country. Among the UVA respondents, 85 percent were currently in the workforce, higher than the national average of 79 percent. Additionally, 90 percent were thriving in at least one of the five elements of well-being measured.
UVA alumni were also more likely to agree that the University prepared them well for life after college, with 41 percent strongly agreeing with that statement, as opposed to 29 percent nationally.
“These survey results demonstrate the profound impact of the distinctive education that UVA provides,” said University President Teresa A. Sullivan. “UVA students develop strong skills and values that prepare them for success in every facet of life.”
Gallup and Purdue University developed the survey to measure long-term success as graduates pursue a good job and a better life, and to provide a measure of educational success that is stronger than simple job placement or salary metrics.
“It is gratifying to see that the University prepares our students for life after school, but it is even more heartening to see how well our alumni are doing,” said C. Thomas Faulders III, president of the UVA Alumni Association. “They are engaged professionally with their careers, with their communities and many have strong, lifelong relationships with UVA.”
UVA alumni performed well in each of the survey’s major components.
- Engagement outpaces national averages: 48 percent of UVA alumni reported being engaged in their work, up significantly from 39 percent nationally. Only 6 percent reported being actively disengaged.
- Alumni report fulfilling jobs: 44 percent of UVA alumni strongly agreed that their job gives them the opportunity to do work that interests them, and 27 percent strongly agreed that they have the ideal job for them. These numbers increase with successive generations, indicating that UVA alumni generally progress into careers and jobs that more deeply interest them.
- Female graduate employment bests national average: 64 percent of female UVA grads reported full-time employment by an employer, as opposed to 52 percent nationally. Male and female UVA alumni were equally likely to be engaged in their workplace, at 47 and 49 percent, respectively.
- Alumni thrive outside of work: For each of the five elements of well-being measured – purpose, social, financial, community and physical – UVA alumni are more likely to be thriving than are their peers nationally.
- UVA generates impressive loyalty: UVA alumni are more likely to be emotionally attached to their alma mater, and 42 percent strongly agreed that UVA was the perfect school for people like them.
In addition to these positive results, Gallup’s survey provided valuable feedback on opportunities for improvement, particularly in mentorship and internship opportunities.
A relatively low percentage of alumni reported applying classroom learning in an internship or job during their college years (23 percent, as opposed to 30 percent nationally).
Additionally, while 67 percent reported having a professor who made them excited about learning, only 18 percent agreed that they had a mentor to encourage their goals and dreams. Generally, those that did report internship experiences and mentor relationships fared better on other measures of long-term success.
Both of these concerns are already being addressed by the University’s Cornerstone Plan, which includes a more holistic approach to advising. Called “total advising,” the initiative combines academic advising, career counseling and personal mentoring and will facilitate internship opportunities and mentor relationships.
The new UVA Internship Center within the UVA Career Center was launched this year to assist students in finding internship opportunities. Additionally, the College Foundation, the Career Center and the UVA Alumni Association launched a new Virginia Alumni Mentoring program pairing more than 800 UVA alumni with third-year students interested in their field of work.
Related initiatives include Career Communities that bring together students, alumni and faculty working in a particular field; a Second-Year Career Week encouraging students to begin thinking about jobs and internships earlier in their college careers; and a Fourth-Year Career Summit to help graduates build an action plan for job-seeking.
“It is reassuring to know that we are moving in the right direction as we work to address areas where we came up a little short in the Gallup survey,” Sullivan said. “We will continue to work on these areas, all of which contribute to the well-being of our graduates.”