December 21, 2016 by Luke Mason
Montgomery College, one of the earliest adopters of Emsi’s Alumni Outcomes, is using the new resource in initiatives that alumni surveys simply haven’t been able to support in the past. From tracking student outcomes, to helping program coordinators build partnerships with new employers, and demonstrating career outcomes to potential students, the college seems to be finding new uses for the data each week.
Where are MC alumni working? What jobs are they filling? What skills do they have?
Until now, answers to these critical questions have been bottlenecked by scarce data. Now armed with employer, job title, skill, and location information matched to 3,000 past student records, senior planning and policy analyst Kevin Long can quickly start to address these issues and others.
“We have just scratched the surface of what we can do with this data.”
Long, who spearheaded the project, has been sharing the data with program coordinators to provide them with a snapshot of how their program’s graduates are doing.
“We’re using the data to find out who is employing our alumni, and then using that information in our outreach efforts,” said Long. “We’re able to build partnerships with new employers and get feedback on how we can adjust our curriculum to better meet employer needs.”
The college is also using this new dataset to supplement their economic impact study.
“Our president’s office was really hesitant to use data from our alumni surveys to quantify the number of graduates who stay in the college’s service area,” said Long. “Emsi’s more comprehensive data provided us with the confidence to stand behind that figure.”
“This data fills in the blanks that the alumni survey can’t.”
But MC’s trust in the new alumni data didn’t come without examination.
“Initially, there was some skepticism about the data’s accuracy and timeliness,” said Long. “But as it turned out, the alumni records we received included a former student who is now working at the college. And the record actually included the individual’s current job title. This went a long way for getting buy-in for the validity of the results.”
MC is also using this new dataset in its recruitment efforts. The college is planning a two-day STEM conference for high school and other pre-admission students. MC will use Career Coach to showcase how its programs train for quality jobs in the region and Alumni Outcomes data to prove that graduates are being hired for those jobs.
The goal is to boost enrollment by helping those prospective students understand their potential career outcomes even before they step foot into an MC classroom.
“We’ve just scratched the surface of what we can do with this data,” said Long.
The college sees a great opportunity to do qualitative interviews with alumni based on their education and career history. Why did you go back for that second degree several years after entering the workforce? How did your education at MC prepare you for your current job? Questions MC can ask confidently knowing it’s targeting the right alumni.
Further, MC aims to incorporate the Alumni Outcomes data into their upcoming reaccreditation study.
“The data fills in the blanks that our alumni survey can’t,” said Long. “More information. More valid results. Plus, you get a lot more bang for your buck in terms of the information coming back being useful. I would recommend this data to a colleague without reservation.”