Last Updated: January 2023
“It’s interesting information, but what do we do with it?”
When it comes to alumni outcomes data, this is the question many institutions face. Is it merely nice-to-know information? Or can it help move the needle on mission-critical priorities?
To help answer this question, we previously looked at three reasons why institutions should prioritize robust alumni outcomes data. Today, we’re focusing on how institutions can put this data to work. So, we went to the experts.
After providing employment outcomes data to hundreds of colleges and universities, Lightcast's Alumni Pathways team has had a front row seat to the impact this data can have. We asked them to share some of the most effective ways they’ve seen institutions leverage outcomes data.
For your inspiration, here are the top six.
Top six ways to use employment pathways data
Engage your alumni – This one might seem obvious, but it’s worth highlighting. That’s because a little analysis goes a long way when it comes to using outcomes data to inform engagement. For example, with the right data, institutions can reconnect with grads working in key industries, companies, or roles. This can lead to alumni participation in program advisory boards or advocacy for capital campaigns. Data on alumni occupations can help you recruit successful grads willing to help current students get a leg up on career networking. These are just a few of the ways that outcomes data can help you discover and connect with alumni who are ready to give back.
Boost enrollment marketing – You’re not the only one who wants to know what your students do after they graduate. Prospective students and parents are keenly interested in knowing the employment outcomes they can expect from your programs. Use this interest to your advantage by equipping your enrollment marketing team with reliable alumni employment data. Identify the data points that best highlight your value and share them via social media, emails, or embedded right onto your program pages. No matter how you do it, outcomes data is a powerful way to show prospects the real-world value of a degree from your institution.
Improve existing programs and create new ones – It’s always good to begin with the end in mind. Once you know where graduates are ending up, you can work backwards by adjusting curriculum to better facilitate common career pathways. You can also identify programs where graduates are under-employed, and use this insight to prioritize program review efforts. Or, you may discover graduates applying their education in unexpected roles and industries. These insights can help inform new programs or new tracks within existing programs.
Engage your stakeholders – From accrediting bodies to grant-making agencies, it’s increasingly common for stakeholders to want evidence that your programs lead to positive employment outcomes. Furthermore, foundations, corporations, and private donors all want to know that their dollars will make a difference. Alumni data at the college, department, and program level can enable you to demonstrate your value and secure the external support you need to grow your impact.
Enhance academic and career advising – Students often don’t realize the full breadth of opportunities their education opens for them. While O*NET can provide theoretical program-to-occupation connections, outcomes data shows the actual pathways your past students have taken from college to career. Use this data to broaden students’ horizons and give them confidence that they are on the right track. Even better, use this data to connect with alumni in relevant jobs or industries who can offer personal insight and advice to current students.
Engage local employers – Employers want talent, and they’re often eager to work with institutions who can demonstrate their ability to provide high-skill, high-quality workers. With data on top alumni employers and job titles, you can approach businesses with proof in hand that your institution is already contributing to their success. Moreover, knowing where your alumni work and in what kind of role can help you identify new businesses to engage, as well as opportunities to expand existing partnerships.
Outcomes in action
Here are a few real-world examples of how institutions are using alumni data to serve their students and grow their impact:
Coastline College in Fountain Valley, CA is integrating alumni outcomes data into Tableau dashboards that inform program review as well as academic and career advising. The data has also helped identify equity gaps between different economic groups that the college can help to close.
Montgomery College in Rockville, MD has used alumni data to expand employer partnerships, understand their alumni’s impact, and engage prospective students. See Dr. Kevin Long’s (Director of Planning and Policy) presentation on how alumni data helps him discover student success stories and new partnership opportunities.
The University of New Mexico used alumni data to enhance their student advising services, empower faculty, and strengthen employer partnerships. See Dr. Jenna Crabb’s (Director of Career Services) presentation on how alumni data helps her serve her institution and their students.
Southern New Hampshire University’s Sandbox ColLABorative uses outcomes data to inform program alignment and strategic planning.
Widener University in Chester, PA uses alumni data to identify common alumni career paths, and uses that information to inform program development and review.
If you have questions or would like to see how you can discover your students' career outcomes, please contact us! We’d love to learn about the work you’re doing and explore our how our data can help.