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U.Va. Education Pays Off In Job Satisfaction, Salary And Knowledge, Alumni Survey Shows

April 20, 1999 -- University of Virginia graduates are generally satisfied with their jobs, are well paid and value education.

Those are central findings of a survey of alumni of the class of 1992. The survey of 1,188 graduates approximately five years after graduation showed that 82 percent of respondents were satisfied with their current or most recent job.

The median individual income for those employed full-time was $38,350, with 23 percent earning $50,000 or more.The median household income was approximately $54,100. In comparison, the median household income for all Americans in 1997 was $37,005.

Nearly 75 percent of the class had advanced degrees, were pursuing such degrees or were enrolled in graduate or professional school. Of the 79 percent of the respondents who were working full-time, 14 percent were also enrolled full-time in graduate or professional school.

"To have nearly three-quarters of a class pursuing advanced education is remarkable," said Edmund "Ned" Moomaw, executive director of U.Va.'s Office of Institutional Assessment and Studies, which conducted the study during the summer of 1997 to assess the impact undergraduate education had on alumni.

The survey was also designed to learn what careers U.Va. graduates choose, how they obtained those jobs and how well the undergraduate experience prepared them for their careers. It showed that 85 percent of graduates were working in a full-time position within six months of graduation. Of those, 41 percent of the respondents had obtained their first job before graduation and three-fourths gained their first employment within three months of graduation.

Alumni were nearly unanimous in indicating that their personal qualities were among the most important factors in landing their first jobs. A large majority of the respondents thought that U.Va.'s reputation and their academic major were important factors in obtaining their first job. Nearly 50 percent of the respondents indicated that internships, summer jobs and advanced degrees were also important in securing their first employment.

Nearly half of the class found their first full-time job in a professional occupation. Of those, 22 percent were employed in science and technology, which included engineering, health care and computer science. Twelve percent were in education and seven percent were in legal fields.

About two-thirds of the graduates said that their undergraduate experience prepared them well for their first job. The survey showed a strong relationship between graduates' job satisfaction and belief that the undergraduate experience had prepared them well for the position. Among those who felt well prepared, 60 percent were satisfied with their first job. Among those who did not feel prepared, only 20 percent were satisfied with their first job.

About two-thirds of the graduates had changed jobs at last once. Half of those had held three or more full-time positions. Of those who changed jobs at least once, 68 percent said that their undergraduate experience had prepared them well for their current job.

College and architecture graduates felt that their undergraduate experiences prepared them better for their current jobs than for their first jobs. By contrast, education, nursing and engineering grads felt better prepared for their first jobs than their current ones. Commerce graduates were the most positive about their undergraduate experience, saying that it prepared them well for both first and current positions.

"The results about College of Arts and Sciences graduates are particularly interesting. Although a minority of College graduates saw a relationship between their undergraduate major and their current job, two-thirds said that their overall U.Va. experience prepared them well for their jobs, and over three-fourths said they were satisfied with their jobs. This shows that the intellectual tools of a liberal arts education, such as analytical and critical thinking and general problem-solving skills, can be applied to any subject matter," said Girish "Jeff" Gulati, a survey methodologist in the Institutional Assessment and Studies Office.

Contact: Ida Lee Wooten, (804) 924-6857.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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