Zac VanderLey—Staff Writer
On Jan. 14, Dordt University announced on Instagram a 100 percent “career outcome rate” for the graduating class of 2021. “Career outcome rate” calculates the percentage of graduates who landed a job, were accepted into graduate school, or entered the military within six months of their graduation. Also, the class of 2021 encompasses students who finished their degree between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.
However, the career outcome rate depends on voluntarily provided information from Dordt alumni. For example, a 98.2 percent knowledge rate informed this year’s perfect career outcome rate. That is, six students from the class of 2021 did not report their job or education status to the university.
At the Career Development Center, Amy Westra and Missy Mulder accumulate graduate career information through graduates, parents, faculty members, and LinkedIn profiles. Then, they deliver the data to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
Usually, after the career outcome report’s releasing, Westra spends six to eight weeks compiling Dordt’s First Destination Report. In addition to the career outcome rate, this report includes in-depth and specific data.
But, because this year’s rate marked the university’s first recorded 100 percent, Dordt publicized the statistic at an earlier date.
In comparison, Dordt’s graduating class of 2020 registered a 99.2 percent career outcome rate with a knowledge rate of 87 percent. These numbers surpassed the national averages for that year (82 percent career outcome rate, 58 percent knowledge rate).
But how does Dordt’s career outcome rate compare with other, similar institutions? In 2020, Northwestern College posted a career outcome rate of 99.5 percent with a 99 percent knowledge rate. A year earlier, Calvin University announced a 94.4 percent career outcome rate. Typically, the larger a university’s student body, the lower their career outcome rate. For example, Iowa University, which boasts a student body of around 22,000, had a 93 percent career outcome rate in 2019.
Furthermore in 2020, schools with less than 2,000 enrolled, undergraduate students averaged a 90 percent career outcome rate, while schools with over 20,000 of the same demographic averaged a 79 percent career outcome rate.
This year and in years prior, Dordt has been accused of hiring recent graduates in an attempt to boost their career outcome rate. Regarding the class of 2020, the university hired four graduates. And, of these four, three were hired for jobs within their field of study.
Over the past few years, Dordt has also released a career outcome rate for degree-related, in-field jobs and education. In 2020, 89 percent of students included in the 99.2 percent career outcome rate found jobs or sought higher education in their field of study.
“It amazes me every year,” Westra said. “I reach out to faculty and staff for information. They are often aware of what their grads are doing due to having built relationships with them as students.”
Cody and Kate Meiners, two graduates from the class of 2021, traded Northwest Iowa’s cornfields for the Washington Monument when they moved to Maryland. The nation’s capital is a 45-minute metro ride away from their residence. Cody and Kate met at Dordt and were married in Sioux Center this past July. They are part of their university’s 100 percent career outcome rate and also part of the group of graduates who found jobs in their field of study.
Cody works as a software developer for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. At Dordt, Cody studied computer science and credits an internship set up by an alumni for landing him his job.
Similar to computer science, the education major at Dordt requires extensive field experience. Kate Meiners completed PDS, the year-long student teaching practicum, during her final year at Dordt. During her time at the university, she learned the importance of backwards planning and connecting assessments with learning targets. Her classroom management improved throughout her field experience and prepared her for her own classroom.
“There’s no substitute to experience,” Kate said.
At Dordt, the computer science and education departments knew where the Meiners were working.
“It’s something you ask yourself,” Kate Meiners said. “‘Am I going to be able to get a job at this college?’”