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Methods

The Illini Success annual reports document the post-graduation outcomes of bachelor’s degree recipients from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Those who receive both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the same semester are excluded from these analyses. Lists of graduates are initially drawn from University records during the semester of graduation, and are finalized ten weeks after graduation to represent an accurate picture of the graduating class for each cohort.

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Data Collection

The primary method for collecting graduate outcomes data is an online survey administered by Illini Success team members at the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Several strategies are used to distribute the survey including: centralized emails, college-specific emails, and requests during capstone classes and related college events. Requests to complete the survey are sent approximately one month before graduation, at graduation, three-months post-graduation, and six-months post-graduation. Direct surveys of graduates are the primary and preferred source of data. However, when survey data are not available, other sources of information are considered. For example, data on continuing education enrollment is obtained from the National Student Clearinghouse and verifiable data reported by employers or gathered by colleges are accepted into the data set. Finally, very limited information from LinkedIn profiles is included after a careful study of the quality of this data. LiveAlumni is contracted to gather publicly available information from  LinkedIn profiles. Data are collected for six months past the May graduation date, closing data collection in mid-November. For those graduating in the preceding August and December, data are accepted through mid-November, but there is not a rigorous pursuit of responses after the initial six-month time periods. 

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Privacy and Confidentiality

The privacy and confidentiality of Illinois graduates is respected and protected as data is collected, analyzed, and reported. All data efforts related to the Illini Success initiative are approved by the University of Illinois Institutional Review Board. A very limited number of Illini Success team members are granted access to the data and all personally identifying information is removed from presentations of data. To further protect confidentiality, outcomes data is only reported in aggregate for groups of ten graduates or more. When there are fewer than ten employed graduates and fewer than five graduates reporting a salary in one year’s data, responses are combined with those from the class of the previous year to provide salary information while protecting the confidentiality and privacy of survey respondents. If sufficient numbers cannot be reached by combining two years of data, salary information is not presented in the report. When fewer than five graduates report a signing bonus, dashes are used to indicate that signing bonus information cannot be shared.

Illini Success only identifies graduates when they give permission to share their information or likeness. When they do so, graduates state specifically what they want to share, and nothing beyond that is released. For example, the Illini Success website presents graduate success stories with photographs and personalized narratives. Being highlighted on the website is voluntary and individuals sign a talent release form to participate.

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Terms and Categories

To understand analyses in the reports, it is helpful to understand some key terminology that is used to define outcomes and categorize variables. When completing the online survey, Illinois graduates are asked about their plans following graduation and were given the following response options: working full-time, working part-time, enrolling in additional education, engaged in military service, engaged in volunteer service, seeking employment, seeking additional education, not seeking employment or education at this time, and I'd rather not answer. For ease of interpretation, we combine these nine response options into the following five categories:

  • Employed, which includes: (a) working full-time, (b) working part-time, and (c) engaged in military service
  • Continuing education
  • Volunteer / service
  • Seeking, which includes: (a) seeking employment, and (b) seeking education
  • Other, which includes not seeking employment or education at this time

“I’d rather not answer” is treated similar to a non-response to the question. Little detail is lost in combining groups. For example, in the employment section, typically small percentages of respondents pursue military careers (<1%) or part-time employment (1%). Graduates are able to select responses regarding their post-graduation plans in two ways. First, they select all statuses that apply to them. For example, a graduate may report both working full-time and being engaged in volunteer work in the community. Second, graduates are asked to select one primary status that best represents their main focus after graduation. Continuing the example, the graduate may identify working full-time as a primary status. The annual reports focus on graduates’ primary statuses.

Further, the annual reports identify graduates who have “secured a first destination” following graduation. This is defined as obtaining employment, enrolling in a continuing education program, and/or engaging in volunteer service as a primary status after graduation.

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Data Analysis and Presentation

Analyses in the reports are informed by standards and guidelines set by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES, 2012). Unless otherwise noted, findings are presented by unique graduates without duplication. A few tables present results by academic major. In these tables, duplicate counts exist because graduates can complete both double majors and dual degrees at the bachelor’s degree level. When a graduate completes more than one major and/or degree, their outcomes data are recognized in each appropriate category for the bachelor’s degree and majors they have completed.

To support ease of reading for various audiences, non-respondents are excluded from each graph, table, and data point (rather than including sections of non-respondents with each question) because respondent numbers change throughout the report as different graduates have access to different survey questions. For example, graduates who selected “continuing education” as their primary status do not receive survey questions about “employment”. Throughout the report, the number of respondents(N) is provided with the data for each survey question.

Finally, there is some grouping of majors in each annual report so that data for small majors can be presented while protecting confidentiality of graduates. Please see the tables in the concluding pages of each annual report to learn how majors are represented for each college and where combinations occurred.