UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND
SEVEN MONTHS AFTER COMMENCEMENT: THE STATUS OF
SPRING, 1983 GRADUATES FROM THE UNIVERSITY
OF MARYLAND COLLEGE PARK
Alyce C. Martinez, William E. Sedlacek and
Thomas D. Bachhuber
Research Report # 12-84
This report has been done in collaboration with the Career Development Center, University of Maryland, College Park.
Computer time for this research has been furnished by the Computer Science Center, University of Maryland.
University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland
SEVEN MONTHS AFTER COMMENCEMENT: THE STATUS OF SPRING, 1983 GRADUATES
FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK
Alyce Cue Martinez, William E. Sedlacek & Thomas D. Bachhuber
Research Report # 12-84
A random sample Of 346 ( 73% return) Spring, 1983, Bachelor’s degree recipients, were surveyed seven months after graduation about their life situations , employment status, educational status, attitudes, and current career needs.
Results indicated that 85% of the graduates were employed either full or part-time, and that many (58%) found positions in their chosen field or that satisfied them. Over half of the respondents (55%) indicated that, they did not have difficulty finding a job after graduation. The mean annual salary for all graduates employed full-time was $15,538.
Adjusting to new time schedules and feeling like a beginner again were among the transitions faced by these graduates.
Overall, those surveyed felt satisfied with their present life situations, their current jobs, and the academic preparation they received in college.
Over three-fourths of the graduates (78%) believed career planning services should be provided for recent alumni and 71% believed that such services should also be accessible through the regular academic curricula.
Significant differences between male and female graduates were presented and discussed.
What happens to the new college graduate after commencement day? Unfortunately, most colleges and universities do not systematically gather data on their former students. As Rodgers, Sedlacek, and Bachhuber (1979) observed, few institutions follow-up an the activities of their graduates on a large scale. When such research is conducted, however, the studies often suffer from methodological weaknesses that preclude generalization to other samples. These methodological problems have included small sample sizes, biased sampling methods, and low .return rates. It is perhaps mare unfortunate that even when such research is conducted well, the results tend to be circulated only within the parent institution itself and not shared with the general academic community. The result is a lack of information an the experiences of graduates as they make the transition from student to other roles.
Several questions arise about college graduates. How has the university affected them? What are their experiences in the areas of employment, post-graduate education, and life planning? In particular, how well do institutions of higher learning anticipate and meet the needs of their graduates?
The Career Development Center and Counseling Center at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) jointly sponsored and conducted a large-scale survey of Fall, 1978 graduates in 1979. The purpose of that research was twofold: (1) to gather information about the employment status of recent graduates; and (2) to gather information on how graduates viewed their college education as preparation for career and life.
Based partly on the results of that survey, the Career Development Center increased promotion of its services to recent alumni and instituted weekend programs. Rodgers, Sedlacek, and Bachhuber (1979) found that 83% of their sample wanted career planning services to be provided for recent alumni, while only 50% had sought out career services as an undergraduate. Although there is often a discrepancy between attitude and behavior, the authors interpreted that discrepancy as suggestive that alumni may have a higher motivational set toward career resources than do students.
A similar survey was conducted with Spring, 1979 graduates of UMCP (Knight, Sedlacek, and Bachhuber, 1980). Thus the main purpose of the present research was to further update knowledge about recent graduates. In addition, since recent literature has focused on the
importance of transitions in adult development (Schlossberg, 1984) a secondary purpose was to examine the transition process from undergraduate student to entry into the work force or graduate studies.
An anonymous questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 500 of the 2,998 graduates receiving Bachelor's degrees in May, 1983. The mailing occurred in December, 1983, seven months after graduation. Thirty-nine of these could not be reached after four attempted contacts by mail or phone, resulting in a sample of 461. Follow-up procedures consisted of a reminder postcard, a telephone call, and sending a second questionnaire where necessary. Of the 365 questionnaires that were returned, 3 arrived too late to be included in the analyses and 16 were incomplete. Results were reported for 346 usable instruments (73% response rate) .
Data were analyzed using percentages, Chi-square, and Multivariate Analysis of Variance. All differences reported are at the .05 level of significance. Percentages that do not add to 100% were due to rounding or "other" responses.
The sample was 51% male and 49% female; 91% white, 7% black, 4% Asian, and less than 1% Hispanic. The majority of the respondents were U.S. citizens (98%), with 2% international/foreign students.
Although most respondents (70%) were not enrolled in any educational program or taking any courses, 17% were enrolled full-time and 13% part-time in some type of educational program.
Most were involved in degree granting programs: 11% of those surveyed were pursuing Master's degrees, (4% were specifically going for the Master's in Business Administration (MBA), 2% were enrolled in programs for a second Bachelor's degree, 2% were going to law school, 1% were in either medical, dental or veterinary school., 1% were in doctoral programs, 1% were in allied health degree programs, 2% of the graduates were taking courses that would increase their employability, and another 2% were involved in technical/career training in such areas as computers, mechanics or secretarial skills (see Table 1) .
Present Situation and Employment Status
The majority of graduates were employed; 68% fulltime and 17% part-time. Over half of the graduates were employed in their chosen field or in a job that satisfied them (580). Another 17% were currently employed, but seeking positions in their chosen field. Only 4% were unemployed and seeking a job. Eighteen percent described themselves as primarily students, 2% were in the military , and 2% were not in the labor force. Significant differences were found between males and females on this item, with males more likely to be employed in their major fields while women were more likely to be employed outside of their chosen field (see Table 2).
A significant portion of the graduates worked in business or industry, with 31% employed by large, national businesses and an additional 30% working for smaller, local businesses (see Table 3). Civil service settings employed the next largest group of graduates, with 14% in federal government jobs and 5% in jobs with state or local governments. Ten percent of the graduates surveyed were in educational settings, 4% of the sample was self-employed, 2% worked in social or community services, 2% were in the military, and 4% were employed in other settings. There were differences significant by sex on this items
with higher percentages of males than females entering large businesses (40% vs. 24%) and higher percentages of females in educational organizations (15% vs. 5%).
Regarding occupational patterns, most graduates were employed in professional, technical, or managerial fields, jobs typically requiring a college degree (See Table 4.) (See footnote 1).
Within these professional arenas, graduates were most likely employed in business-related positions (16% in administrative specializations and 13% in marketing/ professional sales) or in engineering or architectural occupations (16%). Math-related occupations such as computer programmer or systems analyst were held by 8%, and another 8% of the sample held jobs in education. In occupations not requiring a degree, the largest percentage of respondents (9%) held clerical jobs. As might be expected, males were significantly more likely to be in the fields of engineering and mathematics; while females were more likely to hold jobs in education, social sciences, and clerical fields. Interestingly, men and
1 Occupational categories were based on the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. Original DOT categories were modified so that professional sales occupations were included under "Professional, Technical, or Managerial Occupations" rather than under "Clerical and Sales".
women were equally likely to have positions in business, particularly in administrative specializations.
The median annual salary for those reporting fulltime work (N=296) was $14,996, with a range from $1,100 to $31,000 (mean salary was $15,538). On the average, males earned significantly more money than females: the mean yearly salary for males was $18,220 and for females $12,798.
Getting That First Job: Although graduates tended to have greater expectations for job opportunities than they found, over half said they had little difficulty finding a job after graduation. Forty-six percent agreed. with the statement "I expected to have better job opportunities after graduation than I had" (31% disagreed and 23% were neutral), while 55% disagreed with the statement "I had difficulty finding a job after graduation" (33% agreed and 12% were neutral).
The most helpful element in attaining that first job was having a personal contact in the employing organization (33%) (see Table 5). Having a professional, marketable resume was cited by 15% of the respondents; 10% cited participation in the Career Development Center's On-Campus Recruiting Program; and 9% found advice and assistance
from family or friends helpful. Other sources included assistance from a private employment agency (4%) , help from a faculty member or campus office (4%), and help from the Career Development Center other than the recruiting program (2%) .
Twenty-four percent of the respondents cited "other'' sources, however, making this item difficult to interpret. Included in the "other" category were responses that indicated a combination of sources as well as sources not already indicated. In addition, the sources may have been somewhat. confounded. For example, in the area of faculty/campus office assistance, several personnel were trained by Career Development Center staff or use materials prepared by the Career Development Center. Further, students often use a variety of career resources on campus (Newton, Angle, Schuette, and Ender, 1984) and may not be readily able to distinguish which source proved "most" useful.
Contributions to Personal and Career Development: When asked what elements of their college experiences contributed most try their ability to live and work effectively after college, respondents cited two areas most often: their job experiences prior to graduation (35%)
and their courses within their major field (33%) . Other items contributing to their development included friendships (7%), social life (6%), extracurricular activities (5%), courses outside their major field (3%), contact with college professors or counselors (30) and "other" factors (9g) .
Making the Student-to-Worker Transition: Unlike their expectations fog- job opportunities, many college graduates in this sample had expectations for the working world that appear to have been met. Forty-five percent of the respondents agreed with the statement "The working world is just as I had expected it to be" (24% disagreed, and 31% were neutral).
Though the working world tended to meet their expectations, the graduates still had to make adjustments after graduation. When asked what was their most difficult adjustment, 26% said adjusting to a new time schedule, such as having less free time or fewer vacations (see Table 6).
Feeling like a beginner again was the next-most frequently cited item (190), 10% had difficulty with financial planning, and 9% had difficulty translating the theoretical knowledge learned in college to practical,
on-the-job performance. Other difficult transitions included moving (7%), learning office politics (5%), interaction with one's boss or work colleagues (4%), making new friends (4%) and becoming independent (2%. Fifteen percent responded "other" to this item, however.
Degree of Satisfaction: Overall, the graduates surveyed were satisfied with their present situations, their jobs, and their college education (see Table 7). Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed reported being satisfied with their present situation and 54% were satisfied with their current jobs.
The majority of respondents (63%) would take the same or a similar major if they had it to do over again, and most (66%) did not wish they had taken a more practical, job-oriented major or had a greater variety of courses outside their major (56%). This was particularly true for males. But many (54%) of the respondents, particularly females, agreed with the statement, "I wish I had had more practical job preparation at UMCP". When asked whether various elements of their college experiences prepared them for their present situations, most graduates reported that their undergraduate academic programs were helpful (72%), that their personal lives helped them (64%) and
that their extracurricular activities were also helpful to them (53%). It seems that while the graduates found their academic majors to be both helpful and generally satisfying, they also wanted their training to be more practical and job-relevant.
Career Planning: A high percentage of respondents (49%) reported that they could make better use of career planning services now than they could have when they' were undergraduates, and over three-fourths of the graduates (78%) believed that career planning services should be provided to recent alumni. Alumni career services were especially desired by female graduates (M=1.76 for females and 1.98 for males, based on a 5-point Likert scale where 1=strongly agree and 5=strongly disagree).
The respondents were rather ambivalent about their undergraduate career planning, however. Equal percentages of respondents agreed and disagreed with the statement "College life does not permit sufficient time to effectively engage in career planning or job hunting", with 40% agreeing, 40% disagreeing, and 19% neutral. And although 46% did not have difficulty finding career information at UMCP, 34% were neutral and 20% agreed.
It would seem that the graduates preferred that
career planning activities be provided in the classroom rather than having to seek it elsewhere. Seventy-one percent of the respondents, especially women, believed that career planning and job hunting services should be accessible through their academic curricula.
The respondents were divided about whether they would seek help choosing a major or a career before graduating if they had the chance to do it over again (43% agreed and 44% disagreed). Females were significantly more likely to endorse this item, perhaps accounting for that division. However, the group as a whole was clear that they would reek help with job search skills if they had it to do over (61% agreed, 26% disagreed, 13% neutral).
Only 430 of the sample did not use any services provided by the Career Development Center. Those who did not use these services had a variety of reasons: 21% knew of the services but didn't think they needed them, 20% did. not have the time to take advantage of them, 18% did not think they would be useful to them , 16% said they were a "little too lazy to use them", 13% were not aware of the services, and 13% cited "other" reasons.
Respondents were also asked to assess those areas in which they currently needed career services. Areas in
which these alumni were most likely to require help were: exploring career options not previously considered (58%), learning about additional specialized training in their field (51%) , knowing how to find job information in their field (49%) , and in career exploration 45%) . They were least likely to need help with developing a resume or learning job interview skills (26% endorsed those items). There were significant sex differences in three of these areas, with higher proportions of women needing assistance with identifying interests and skills related to careers, in exploring careers that fit those interests and skills, and in exploring further career options (see Table 8).
Recent UMCP graduates appear to be doing well in today's job market. Most were employed and most were in positions that required their college education. This was comparable to a statewide follow-up of bachelor's recipients from 1980 (Maryland State: Board for Higher Education, 1984). This was in contrast to predictions of hard times for 1983 graduates nationally (English, 1983) . Additionally, the UMCP graduates were satisfied with their present life situations and their academic preparation. The question that remains, however, is
what, if anything, do these alumni still need from their alma mater?
Despite this satisfaction and generalized happiness there were two areas in which the alumni indicated difficulty: the student-to-worker transition and, career planning. Perhaps it is on these two areas that college officials need to focus in designing programs for students' needs.
In particular, effort may need to be directed toward offering career sources to recent alumni. The results of the present study confirm those from the studies by Rodgers, Sedlacek and Bachhuber (1979), Knight, Sedlacek and Bachhuber (1980) and Newton, Angle, Schuette and Ender (1984): that many graduates did not consider the need for career services until the prospect of job seeking was upon them. Therefore, it may be more efficient to direct more attention to recent alumni than to entering freshmen.
One limitation should be kept in mind, however. The data reported here is based on self-report. Respondents indicated that they believed such services, should be offered. Further needs assessments should be undertaken to determine whether they would actually use such services.
Perhaps the most efficient and proactive effort would be to integrate career programs into the standard academic curricula. Nearly three-fourths of the respondents wanted services to be accessible through the classroom. With students increasingly perceiving college as a means toward a job and not simply for intellectual pursuit (Mason-Sowell and Sedlacek, 1984), the academic environment must change to meet student needs. Tailoring career planning and job-hunting strategies to specific occupational fields would surely benefit the student and increase his/ her academic training.
One recent program reported great success in developing classroom programs and may serve as a model (Newton, Angle, Schuette, and Ender, 1984). In a needs assessment of undergraduates at Kansas State University, Newton et al. found that students did little career planning unless in response to an immediate pressure. As a result, decisions were often made as a result of chance rather than "a plan of intentional purpose toward a career" (p.542). In response to these findings, the counseling center there began offering career-oriented presentations in classrooms as a prevention intervention.
Sex differences in career attainment and career planning also warrant further attention. For example, the discrepancy between males and females continues to be worrisome, particularly regarding career services. Male students needed assistance for goals beyond job entry such as examining further options, while women students were still exploring possible careers and skills needed prior to job entry. With significant numbers of women lagging behind men in their career attainment, efforts to help females adjust just to Work roles rust continue. Perhaps the efforts that are directed toward college freshmen and sophomores should focus primarily on women. Educative efforts must be taken, especially in helping women to realize that they do not have to settle for clerical work if they do not immediately find a job in their field.
Perhaps the most important implication of this research is that the vocational and intellectual missions of higher education need not be mutually exclusive. It is possible for college education to balance intellectual striving and career preparation, while integrating individual interests, values, and goals. The challenge to institutions will be to design effective programs that stimulate students toward achievement in both areas.
English, C.W. (1983, December 12). Turn for the better in job prospects for '84 grads. U.S. News and World
Knight, G.D., Sedlacek, W.E., & Bachhuber, T.D. (1980). A comparison of 1978 and 1979 University of
Maryland, College Park, graduates on vocational and attitudinal variables. Counseling Center Research
Report #10-80. College Park, MD: University of Maryland.
Maryland State Board for Higher Education (1984). Follow-up survey of the 1981 bachelor's degree p en :s
from Maryland public institutions Annapolis, MD:
Postsecondary Education Research Reports.
Mason-Sowell, M. & Sedlacek, W.E. (1984). Changes in campus-subcultures by sex over thirteen years.
College and University, 60, 63-67.
Newton, F.B., Angle, S.S., Schuette, C.G., & Ender, S.C. (1984). The assessment of college student need: First
step in a prevention response. Personnel and Guidance Journal, 62, 537-543.
Rodgers, R.S., Sedlacek, W.E., & Bachhuber, T.D. (1979). A survey of University of Maryland, College Park,
graduates, Fall, 1978. Counseling Center Research Report #13-79. College Park, MD: University of
Schlossberg, N.K. (1984). Counseling Adults in Transition. New York: Springer.
% of Graduating
Type of Educational Program Class Enrolled
Business-related Masters (MBA, MPA,
Other Masters 11
Medical, Dental, Veterinary 1
Doctoral (Ph,D., etc,) 1
Allied Health 1
Other graduate/professional 2
Second Bachelors 2
Courses to increase employability 2
Technical or career training 2
* 70% were not enrolled in any educational program.
Present Situation of Sample by Sex
field or satisfactory
position 61 55 58
Employed, but seeking
a job in chosen field 14 20 17
a job 4 4 4
Student 18 18 18
Military 3 0 2
Not in labor force 0 3 2
Total 100% 100% 100¢
* Percentages may not add to 100° due to rounding or "other" responses.
Type of Employing Organization*
Large Business or Industry 31
Small Business, Industry, or Agency 30
Federal Government 14
State or Local Government 5
Social or Community Services 2
*Includes full and part-time employment (N=296)
** Percentages may not total 100$ due to rounding or "other" responses
Occupational Field by Sex*
Field % Male %Females %Total**
Surveying 26 6 16
Mathematical or Physical
Sciences 13 2 8
Life Sciences 3 3 3
Social Sciences 2 8 5
Medicine/Health 1 3 2
Education 2 15 8
Creative Arts 5 5 5
Administration 16 16 16
Marketing/Sales 11 15 13
Clerical/Non-Professional Sales 3 15 9
Services -- e.g., Waiter,
Hairdresser, etc. 2 5 3
Protective Services 7 1 4
Agriculture, Forestry, or
Fishing 3 1 2
Skilled Trades 3 0 1
Other 4 6 5
Total 100% 100% 100%
*(N=206, differences significant beyond .05 using (chi-square)
** Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding or "other" responses
Most Helpful Element in Obtaining First Job
A personal contact in the employing
A marketable resume 15
Participation in the UMCP On-Campus
Recruiting Program 10
Advice/assistance from friends and family 9
Assistance from a campus office or
faculty member 4
Assistance from a private employment
agency or recruiting firm 4
Other assistance from the Career
Development Center 2
Total 1.00 %
* Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding or "other" responses
Most Difficult Adjustment After Graduation*
Adjustment % Males % Females %Total**
New time schedule 20 32 26
again 11 26 19
Financial planning 12 9 10
knowledge to practical
job performance 14 5 9
Moving or new geographical
location 8 5 7
Learning office politics 7 3 5
Interacting with boss
or colleagues 4 4 4
Making new friends 5 3 4
Being independent 1 4 2
Other 19 10 15
* (N=346; differences significant by sex beyond .05 using Chi-square)
** Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding or "other" responses
Items % Positive %Negative
1. "My undergraduate academic program
helped me to prepare for my present
situation" 72 20
2. "My personal life in college help me
prepare for my present situation" 64 18
3. "My extracurricular life in college
helped me prepare for my present
situation" 53 28
4. "I am satisfied with my present
situation" 59 29
5. "If I had it to do over again, I
would take the same or similar
major" 63 , 24
6. "I wish I had had more practical job
preparation at UMCP" 54 31
7. "I wish I had taken a more practical,
job-oriented major" 23 66
8. "I wish I had taken a greater variety
of courses in addition to my major" 30 56
9. "I feel that UMCP should provide
career planning services for recent
alumni" 78 8
16. "I expected to have better job
opportunities after graduation than
I had" 46 31
20. "I feel satisfied with my present job" 54 29
* Percentages required to add to 100% for each item were neutral responses.
% Need Help % Do Not Need Help
Males Females Males Female Total% **
Learning effective job hunting
strategies 19 19 31 31 100%
Knowing how to find information
about jobs in my field of
interest 23 26 27 24 100%
Learning how to communicate
effectively and be confident
in job interviews 12 14 38 36 100%
Help in developing a marketable
resume 11 15 39 35 100%
Exploring careers that fit my
interests, skills and values* 19 19 25 31 25 100%
Learning about additional
specialized training in my
field 25 26 25 24 100%
Exploring career options that
I may not have considered* 26 32 24 18 100%
Identifying my interests and
skills, and relating them to
possible careers* 13 21 38 29 100%
* Differences significant beyond .05 level using (Chi-square)
** Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding or "other" responses