Virginia Surveys Alumni of Public Colleges and Universities | Inside Higher Ed

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The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia recently released a study on the impact and value of public higher education in the state, based on graduates’ employment outcomes, financial health and satisfaction with their college experiences, among other factors.

The study, called “Virginia Educated,” was conducted by the Survey and Evaluation Research Laboratory in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. The results are based on 15,348 survey responses from 499,665 graduates of public colleges and universities in the state between 2007 and 2018.

“The survey documents clearly that our graduates think highly of the education they received and the difference that education has made in their lives,” Virginia State University president Makola Abdullah said in a press release. “It also provides valuable information on areas where we can do better.”

The survey found that most graduates—88.1 percent—reported feeling satisfied with their overall undergraduate experience. The majority of graduates were employed, with 83.3 percent of community college graduates and 89.4 percent of university graduates working at the time they were surveyed. Two-thirds of employed respondents said their jobs fit “very well” or “moderately well” with the field they studied.

However, many alumni also struggled with debt. Almost 30 percent of community college students and 56 percent of university students held student loan debt or owed other money spent on their education, such as credit card debt or personal loans, when they graduated. More than 19 percent of community college graduates and 21.2 percent of university graduates reported that they felt at least “moderately” worried about their student debt.

Stephen Moret, president and CEO of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, said the survey results will help the state “to ensure the continuing—and improving—excellence of Virginia’s talent pipeline.”

“To my knowledge, no other state has done anything as comprehensive,” Moret said in the release. “Virginia is now uniquely positioned to understand the circumstances of our higher ed graduates and important predictors of their challenges and successes.”

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