Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Value of a CU Degree

By Lisa Severy, Director of Career Services & Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs

The University of Colorado Boulder is nationally recognized for its unique and stellar academic programs, outstanding faculty, high-achieving students, award-winning staff, and its beautiful geographic setting. In my role as Director of Career Services, I am often asked how this academic excellence translates into the world of work in terms of degree marketability. In that spirit, I am presenting this open letter to our CU community to share my personal perspective based on my experience working with college recruiters and also to give you a view of the current recruiting picture at CU-Boulder.

Career Services at CU-Boulder is responsible for helping students with various aspects of their professional development and for facilitating interactions between students and potential employers in terms of career fairs, job and internship listings, and on-campus interviewing. While the new college job market is related to the national job market, it has some differences that make it bounce back faster and weather difficulties more easily than the market in general. For example, employers who are moving from a stalled hiring period into a more active hiring period may target new graduates as a cost-effective strategy and a way of finding enthusiastic professionals with the latest skills and training. When our employer relations staff talks with potential employers about the value of hiring new college graduates in general and CU-Boulder graduates in particular, they focus specifically on the benefits of hiring the best and the brightest this country has to offer.

Marketing the value of a degree from CU-Boulder is not difficult. In fact, we enjoy talking about the academic and leadership credentials of our students, the caliber of our nationally celebrated faculty, the uniqueness of our academic offerings, and the variety of extracurricular education available to our students. Among the highlights we emphasize are:
•    Five Nobel Prize winners
•    Nineteen Rhodes Scholars
•    Six Marshall Scholarship recipients
•    Nine Truman Scholarship recipients
•    Sixteen Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship recipients
•    Twenty-five National Security Education Program recipients
•    The 2004 National Professor of the Year
•    Four CU-Boulder professors awarded the National Medal of Science, the nation's highest scientific 
•    More than 100 faculty Fulbright Scholars
•    More than one hundred student Fulbright Scholarships for graduate study
•    Twenty-four faculty members in the National Academy of Sciences
•    Twenty-two faculty members in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
•    Sixteen faculty members in the National Academy of Engineering
•    Six faculty members in the National Academy of Education
•    Seven faculty recipients of MacArthur Fellowships, otherwise known as "Genius Grants"
•    Nine Packard Fellows (recognizing the most promising science and engineering researchers in the US)
•    Ten professors awarded Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships since 2000
•    Two National Science Foundation Director's Award winners for Distinguished Teaching Scholars
•    More than fifty fellows in the American Association for the Advancement of Science
•    Four faculty members named investigators by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
•    Ten professors honored with fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities
•    Just recently, two CU-Boulder professors, Pieter Johnson and Rebecca Safran, received prestigious 
National Science Foundation Early Career Development awards.

•    CU-Boulder ranks No. 4 among all U.S. colleges and universities in the number of its alumni now 
serving as Peace Corps volunteers with 93 individuals making a difference in families and communities throughout the world. More than 2,353 CU-Boulder alumni have served as Peace Corps volunteers, No. 5 all time.
•    The University of Colorado Boulder’s ROTC program has won one of eight MacArthur Awards in the nation for the unit’s achievements in the 2011-12 school year. CU-Boulder was selected as the top unit of the Cadet Command’s Fifth Brigade, which consists of 36 senior Army ROTC programs in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Wyoming.
•    Eighteen CU-Boulder alumni have flown in space on a total of 40 missions, beginning with Scott Carpenter and the Mercury missions in the 1960s. CU-Boulder ranks among the top five U.S. universities, excluding military academies, in the number of astronaut alumni. CU-Boulder is the only research institution in the world to have designed and built space instruments for NASA that have been launched to every planet in the solar system.

As the following highlights additionally indicate, CU-Boulder has been nationally recognized as one of the finest universities in the country:
•    CU-Boulder ranked in the top 20 in a 2012 report by SmartMoney that rated the return on investment for 50 of the nation’s priciest colleges for out-of-state tuition.
•    CU-Boulder is one of only 35 U.S. public research universities invited to join the prestigious Association of American Universities.
•    CU-Boulder is one of only three U.S. schools to receive the 2007 Presidential Award for Exemplary Student Community Service. Specially recognized CU-Boulder programs include the Volunteer Resource Center, the Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement, Engineers without Borders, the Puksta Scholars Program, INVST Community Studies, Simply the Best, and the Peace Corps Recruitment Program.
•    U.S. News & World Report ranked CU-Boulder 42nd among the nation's top 50 public national universities in its 2013 America's Best Colleges issue. The rankings were based on factors such as academic reputation, student retention, faculty resources, alumni giving, graduation rate and admissions selectivity.
•    CU-Boulder ranked second in Outside magazine’s 40 best colleges. The rankings were based on schools that, “...turn out smart grads with top-notch academic credentials, a healthy environment ethos and an A+ sense of adventure.”
•    CU-Boulder is ranked sixth among public institutions in federal research expenditures by the National Science Foundation.
•    Six CU-Boulder graduate school specialty programs were ranked in the top 10 in the nation, in U.S. News & World Report's 2013 America's Best Graduate Schools issue.
•    Recognizing its commitment to civic engagement and leadership, CU-Boulder was included in Colleges with a Conscience, published in 2005 by Random House, The Princeton Review and Campus Compact.
•    In March of 2006, Fortune Small Business and CNNMoney.com named CU-Boulder one of ten “Hot Spots” for entrepreneurial education.

As you can see, CU-Boulder is one of the highest caliber universities, public or private, in the country. Although our awards and rankings are impressive, the strength of our employer relations depends primarily upon our graduates. What keeps employers returning to CU-Boulder to recruit semester after semester and year after year is the success of its previous recruits within their organization. CU-Boulder graduates make good employees. As long as hiring managers and campus recruiters come to understand that investing in a CU-Boulder graduate is a good decision for their company, they will continue to look to the CU for their recruiting and hiring needs.

Despite the recession, our graduates continue to interview and are finding success within a tricky new graduate job market. The Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI) recently reported that employers anticipate a 3% increase in bachelor’s level new graduate hiring this year, and we believe that outlook is reflective of CU-Boulder as well. Here is an overview of recruiting at CU-Boulder:
•    Despite the recession, the number of opportunities posted for CU-Boulder graduates has increased over the past five years. In fact, our full-time job postings have increased more than 28% since before the recession started. Our number of internships has doubled in that time. While some schools have stalled in the recessions, our numbers have continued to increase.
•    Last year, the number of full-time positions we posted at CU-Boulder increased by 4.7% over the year before.
•    Last year we posted approximately 5,838 opportunities in diverse industries across Colorado, the US, and the world.
•    Our Spring Career Fair in 2013 maxed out our space for employers with more than 153 companies attending. The most frequent major request by those companies was “All Majors.” In other words, companies are looking for talented, educated, motivated leaders from any academic discipline or background to be problem-solvers within their organization.
•    According to the Wall Street Journal, corporate recruiters are increasingly hiring from large, state schools, in part because a recruiter can interview more candidates more quickly at a big state campus than at a smaller, private school. In addition, the quality gap between private and state schools has narrowed. Recruiters call graduates of the top state schools among the best-prepared students and say they fit well with their corporate cultures.
•    According to independent research by PayScale, the starting median pay for CU-Boulder graduates (bachelor’s degree holders with no further education) is $45,000 and the mid-career (10-19 years of experience) median pay is $87,100. Of course, these median numbers vary greatly by discipline, industry, and geography.

To help our graduates maximize their potential and stand out among candidates, we offer professional career counseling and coaching. Coaches and counselors can help students identify strengths, make career decisions, strategize a plan, write a resume, practice interviewing, and build a network. We also work closely with the Alumni Association to help students connect with alumni as well as to help alumni in career transition. The University of Colorado Boulder is committed to helping graduates be successful professionally throughout their lifetimes.

The good news from our employer partners is that CU-Boulder will continue to stay at the top of their recruiting lists, even in these difficult economic times. The quality of the degrees earned here at CU- Boulder, as evidenced by the list of accolades above, helps to keep us at the forefront of college recruiting. Those of us on the front lines of marketing CU-Boulder degrees will continue to represent the University of Colorado with great pride. We continually meet with new employers as well as our long- time partners to bring the best opportunities to campus. As always, we seek feedback from students, faculty, staff, and CU-Boulder parents to shape and guide our programs. As our students and the world of work constantly change, we continue to strive to meet the needs of the best and brightest students and new graduates in the country.