BS: “97% of ERAU Graduates Get Hired in their Field of Study”

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By Taylor Brown, Editor In Chief

“97 percent of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott graduates get hired in their field of study.” Most students on campus have seen this statistic at some point or another, and perhaps it’s given you some comfort regarding your post-graduation future.

But what does this number mean, and how accurate is it really? To get some clarity surrounding Embry-Riddle placement statistics, I spoke with the Assistant Director of Career Services and Employer Relations for the College of Engineering, Space Physics, and Astronomy degree programs, Laura Polk.

Polk told Horizons, “We have a couple ways we come up with our placement rate, and what we use in our Career Services office is called the Cap and Gown survey.”

This survey is mandatory for all graduating seniors to complete and it evaluates post-graduation placement. If a student is hired in their field, content with their non-major related employment, continuing education (such as grad school), or commissioning into the military, then they are considered placed and included in the statistic. If a student is still seeking work, or is otherwise unsatisfied by the nature of their post-graduation plans, they can indicate that and won’t be included in the placement rate.

But what constitutes a degree related position? Perhaps you’ve heard stories of Global Security and Intelligence Studies (GSIS) majors working as security guards at hardware stores, is that considered a job in their field of study?

“The student can decide whether they feel like it is a degree related position. For a lot of students, if they are employed in a non-degree related position, they would only circle that if they feel like that is what they wanted,” Polk stated. Essentially, if a student is still looking for work in their field, regardless of the job they have at the time, then they would not be included in the placement rate.

This survey is completed by the overwhelming majority of graduating students, since they can’t pick up their cap and gown without completing it. Polk estimated only one or two graduates from the class of 2022 failed to complete the survey.

For the 2021 to 2022 academic year, the cumulative placement rate was 92.4 percent by 6 months out of graduation. While lower than the commonly stated 97 percent, this number still reflects a vast majority of students being hired in their field, content with a non-degree related position, or accepted into graduate school.

The 97 percent statistic comes from the alumni survey taken 1 year after graduation. This survey tends to have less students fill it out since it is optional, but its numbers reflect the vast majority of graduates are placed.

These numbers did drop during the COVID-19 pandemic. The class of 2020 had a cumulative 79.8 percent placement rate, and the class of 2019 had 76.4 percent of students placed. Now that the academic and professional world is moving towards normalcy, these percentages have skyrocketed.

The crucial aspects to remember are how placements change based on the degree program and college, as well as the total number of graduating students in each program.

“For instance, I had a really great year with Space Physics last year, 100 percent of them were placed. But I’ve had other years with only 5 students graduating and 2 were still looking, so it really skews the numbers,” Polk stated.

In other cases, 67 percent of 2021 graduates in the forensic psychology program were placed post-graduation, but there were only 3 students in that program graduating. On the other hand, 94.7 percent of the 94 2021 graduates in aerospace engineering were placed post-graduation.

“What happens with pilots, is they graduate then they still need to complete their flight hours before they can get a job in industry. So, for those in COA, they’re kind of like on hold, and we’re not counting them as actively seeking employment because they need to complete those flight hours.”

The College of Business, Security, and Intelligence (CBSI) and the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) frequently have more students seeking work at the time of graduation. Polk told Horizons, “Some of our students from niche degree areas are hired mostly by government agencies that are on a completely different hiring cycle than engineering. Because of their budget year, government agencies do not start hiring until the spring semester, so these students may not have offers until a few months after graduation.”

Bottom line: the 97 percent statistic isn’t far off, but how accurate it is really depends on the year, the degree program, the total students graduating from that degree program, and which survey the school decides to pull data from.

For students who want to look into placement rates for their degree programs on campus, reference the Embry-Riddle website at [https://ir.erau.edu/Surveys/]. The survey referenced in this article is the Prescott Cap and Gown Survey and shows statistics for each graduating degree program over the last three years.

Regardless of your major and field of study, there is hope! If you’re nervous about your career post-Embry-Riddle, or you’ve already graduated and are struggling finding work, Career Services is to the rescue.

“We help students pretty much as long as they need help with career services,” Polk stated, “We’re available pretty much for life if they need us.” Students have access to Career Services’ email lists, job postings, workshops, seminars, and more for as long as they need.

Polk advises all students to be in regular communication with their Career Services advisor. “Just coming in here you can learn so much more by just asking questions,” Polk stressed, “we really spend all of our days looking for opportunities for you guys, talking to recruiters, and knowing what is needed in industry.”

Being proactive about career options, plans, and opportunities is a huge determining factor in post-graduation success. Polk stated, “The students that do well are the ones who are involved, come ask questions, get their resumes reviewed, and the students who are kind of out of the loop are the ones who don’t come to see career services.”

Although it’s “never too early”, Polk hopes to meet with students starting their sophomore year. Applying for internships, research programs, and other opportunities can be a long process, and waiting until junior year might limit a student’s options.

The Career Services advisors are listed below, contact your advisor to schedule an appointment!

Laura Polk: COE, Space Physics, and Astronomy [Laura.Polk@erau.edu]

Marissa Owens: CAS, GSIS, Cyber Intelligence and Security [Marissa.Owens@erau.edu]

Darren Hudak: COA, Business [Darren.Hudak@erau.edu]

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