Katrina (Zaremba) and I (Vanessa Newton) recently sat down and live-blogged our conversation about all things First-Destination Survey related. If you missed any of the other installments on this series, here’s where you can catch up:
Why is the first-destination survey important?
Vanessa: It’s an important tool for students and parents to use when planning their academic journey. They can see how other graduates were able to leverage their experiences at the University of Kansas (KU) and be successful. Seeing how peers can be successful can be a really powerful tool. You are able to show people the results rather than just telling them.
Katrina: We are increasingly receiving more questions about students’ post-graduation plans from administration, prospective students, parents, and faculty. Having this data is helpful when communicating with outside constituents. From a marketing perspective, having this information gives us the ability to communicate key data points and illustrate the value of our institution to stakeholders.
What did you learn this year?
Vanessa: The power of asking questions, whether for getting data or learning new things, asking questions was the biggest thing I learned this year.
Katrina: We are constantly learning new ways we can collect and share data. I’ve learned that it is important to remain open-minded to new ideas.
What is one key takeaway you’d share with others?
Vanessa: There are no bad ideas. We are constantly evolving and trying out new processes to get a higher response rate. Others have different processes that they have been sharing with us, so we are getting an idea of how other people are doing it. Spoiler alert: It takes more than just an e-mail [to the graduate].
Katrina: Branding is key.
What is a goal you have regarding first-destination surveys?
Overall, our goal is to increase our knowledge rate. We also want to maintain the openness to ideas and make sure that we are keeping the conversation going with first-destination surveys. The process never really stops.
Vanessa: Organization is important: making more comprehensive timelines to aid in planning.
Katrina: To capitalize on campus partnerships. Many offices/departments on our campus have an interest in the data as well, and by working together, we can help each other achieve our goals. One way I’d like to do this is via social media, by asking campus partners to share our content and encourage their graduates to participate in the survey.
What’s your advice to someone new to collecting destination survey information?
Vanessa: Keep it simple. You don’t need fancy software. You don’t need flashy surveys. Those are great to have, but bare bones, you just need the data. You can do a lot with frequencies and percentages that are easy to calculate in Excel. Those types of numbers are easily interpreted and understood by everyone.
Katrina: Teamwork. Collecting, analyzing, and sharing this data is (and should be) a group effort. You have to rely on other people’s strengths to contribute to the whole.