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Frequently asked questions about the first destination survey and report

For and about UNDERGRADUATE degree recipients

Reminder: the subjects of the first destination survey and report are new graduates completing UNDERGRADUATE degrees at Virginia Tech.

How many of the graduates responded?

  • This varies each year.
  • Response data are the first items in each report for each graduation year, for total university, each college, and each major that had at least one graduate with that major as "primary."
  • Each graduate is counted once in the primary major.
  • There are some majors where zero graduates were respondents.
  • Total university reponse by year:
    2022-2023: 64%
    2021-2022: 56%
    2020-2021: 64%
    2019-2020: 31% (lower due to delay of survey due to pandemic)
    2018-2019: 55%
    2017-2018: 69%
    2016-2017: 69%
    2015-2016: 62%
    2014-2015: 58%
    2013-2014: 60%
    2012-2013: 60%

What is the source of the total number of graduates?

  • For the first destination survey at Virginia Tech, the number of individuals completing undergraduate degrees is based on the number with Application For Degree (AFD) for graduation terms within the academic year.
  • Each graduate is counted once, in their primary major.
  • Each academic year includes those who graduate at the end of these terms: fall (December), winter, spring (May), and summer.
  • We carefully considered various options in determining this grouping by academic year. The academic year begins in fall and ends at the conclusion of the summer terms. When the university creates, renames, or moves majors to different colleges, and when colleges are reorganized and renamed, those changes are effective at the start of the academic year, in fall. Matching that definition of the academic year creates consistency because we report data by major and college.
  • If you view a data source that presents a different number of undergraduate degree recipients, please note the explanation provided by that data source. For example, the University Data Commons dictonary explains the various ways their data could be grouped by year.

What if a major is not on the report menu?

  • A major is on the menu, for the academic year of graduation, if at least one degree was conferred for the major as primary (first major) in that academic year.
  • As stated, each individual completing an undergraduate degree is counted once, in the primary major.
  • In each report, total graduates and total respondents are the first counts shown, so if the major had zero respondents, that is shown.
  • University faculty and staff who have data needs related to second majors, are welcome to contact us.

How can I help boost our graduates' response?

Thank you for asking!

In addition to our efforts to encourage new graduates to respond to the survey, advisors, faculty, and staff who work with graduating seniors help to encourage response, and that can make a difference.

How you can help:

  • Complete this brief form, and we'll send you concise reminder information at the appropriate times.
  • The survey opens about one month before commencement and stays open for six months after. You can send your upcoming and new grads to the survey information throughout that time.
  • Please know that the best time windows to get responses are:

Thank you! Your efforts have value and could make the difference to graduating seniors who know you.

What if a graduating undergrad can't access the survey?

Is the first destination survey the same as the senor survey?

When do most of the academic year's grads complete degrees?

  • Those who complete undergraduate degrees in fall have generally accounted for 16-18% of the total.
  • Those who complete in spring constitute the majority, typically 72-74%.
  • Those who complete in summer sessons typically comprise 9-10%. (Surveyed with the May commencement subcohort.)
  • When the university began allowing degree completion in winter term, this accounted for less than half a percent of the graduates. (Surveyed with the December commencement subcohort.)

Who employs the most graduates? Who are the employers by major?

  • Responding employed graduates have reported 700+ to 1000+ employers per graduation year.
  • Each year, >130 to >270 graduates stated they are employed but did not name their employer.
  • The most-reported employer is typically reported by under 3% of employed grads.
  • See the report which includes details.

Where do most graduates go to continue education? Where do grads go by major?

  • Graduates who report "continuing education" as the first destination are asked to provide their degree, program, and school.
  • Within each report "continuing education details" display what the graduates provided. You can sort that report by its headings.
  • Each year, graduates report approximately 150 to 200 institutions in over 30 states, plus Washington, DC. A handful of individuals report institutions abroad. Typically about a third of those continuing education (about 7%-8% of all respondents) do so at Virginia Tech.
  • The report includes information about continuing education.

What degrees do grads pursue immediately after graduation?

  • Graduates who report "continuing education" as the first destination are asked to provide their degree, program, and school.
  • Within each report "continuing education details" display what the graduates provided. You can sort that report by its headings.

What if a graduate finds a job after graduation? Can they report that?

  • Yes. The survey stays open for six months after *commencement, so graduates have plenty of time to self-report employment or graduate school admission. They can easily update their self-report as long as the survey is open, and this is explained in information about the survey.
  • *Commencement means:
    December commencement for fall and winter graduates.
    May commencement for spring and summer graduates.

Does the university survey graduate students about career outcomes?

Contact if you have other questions

For questions not addressed above, and for our faculty and staff who have data needs, please email Catherine Copeland.