What, why, who, when, how, confidentiality

A.K.A. Methodology

What, why, who:

  • The First Destination After Undergraduate Degree Report is based on self-report by graduates, through six months after commencement. 
  • All Virginia Tech graduates who apply for *undergraduate degrees are asked to self-report their First Destination.
    *Undergraduate degrees include bachelor's and associate's degrees; Virginia Tech has one associate's degree program.
  • Data collection is conducted annually with the graduates for that academic year.
    The 2017-2018 report is based on survey responses from graduates who completed undergraduate degrees in December 2017, May 2018, and Summer I and II, 2018.
    Effective for the graduates of the 2019-2020 academic year, winter session 2020 graduates are surveyed on the same timeline with December 2019 graduates.
  • The primary purpose is to learn the current status of graduates regarding their first destination after the undergraduate degree — whether they have accepted employment, are continuing education (graduate or professional school, or other), or are in process of pursuing one of these goals.
    • We also ask graduates how they prepared for life after college, including what career-related experience they had, and if they have regrets about their preparation.
  • We publish responses viewable by major, college and total university.
  • The First Destination After Graduation Report is used by the Virginia Tech Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness: Student Consumer Information to meet federal requirements for disclosure and reporting of data on "student outcomes," specifically employment and graduate/professional school "placement" following the undergraduate degree.

When, how:  Timing and process:

  • Self-reporting is online, continuously open for seven months.
    • Timing: December graduates are a subcohort, and May and Summer I and II graduates are a subcohort. Effective for the 2019-2020 academic year, Winter session 2020 graduates are surveyed with the December 2019 graduates. Winter session graduates comprise less than four percent of that subcohort, and less than one percent of the academic year's graduates.
    • Survey opens approximately one month before commencement (November for December and winter graduates; April for May and summer graduates).
    • Survey closes at six months after commencement (mid-June for December and winter grads, and mid-November for May and summer grads).
  • Graduates can respond and update their responses through six months after commencement.
    • Therefore, graduates who are seeking employment or applying to continuing education at the time of commencement can update their responses when they secure employment or admission, up to six months after commencement. Periodic email reminders ask them to do so.
  • Eligible graduates are invited to self-report. Login uses VT PID and password so only eligible graduates can self-report.
    • Log in access is based on the completion term in each individual's Application for Degree with the University Registrar.
    • Graduates are not asked to provide major or graduation term. That information is pulled from university data.
    • For 15 years, from 2003-2004 through 2017-2018, we used a Virginia Tech-built administrative system and survey to collect and report the data.
    • Beginning with the 2018-2019 graduates, we used a vendor product, Handshake, for the survey instrument and to collect the data.
  • Self-reporting is user-friendly.
    • Self-reporting takes under five minutes.

Confidentiality in reporting & aggregage data:

  • Individual responses are confidential.
    • Names of individual graduates are not published.
    • Individual responses are not shared with anyone.
  • Individual salary data is confidential.
    • Individual salary responses are not published or connected to an individual's job title or employer.
    • Salary data is shown in aggegate by major and college, where a sufficient number of responses are received. Median is shown if four or more salaries are reported. The 25th and 75th percentiles are shown if 12 or more salaries are reported.
    • Medians are reported based on professional recommendation by the Office of Assessment and Evaluation. Averages can be skewed by outliers.


  • Career and Professional Development has administered this data collection on behalf of the university beginning with the 2003-2004 graduates.