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More Ways to Measure

By Gregg Sangillo

The We KNOW Success website has been updated to include data from the Class of 2014.

The We KNOW Success website has been updated to include data from the Class of 2014.

American University unveiled its new We KNOW Success: Where AU Graduates Land website in the fall of 2014, and it's already getting some useful upgrades. We KNOW Success charts graduate outcomes. This includes the percentage of AU bachelor's and master's degree graduates either working or earning an advanced degree within six months of graduation, as well as the proportion of AU students who have completed internships for academic credit.

Yet We KNOW Success is still evolving, and several new features give current students, prospective students, parents, and alumni a more detailed picture of the AU experience. The website user can find targeted data that illustrates the present and future value of an AU degree.

2014 Numbers

The We KNOW Success website has been updated to include data from the Class of 2014. By encompassing four years (2011 through 2014), the university can more accurately demonstrate job and graduate school percentages. Previously, some departments and degree programs had sample sizes too small to be fairly represented. Featuring figures from four graduating classes will enable even more students to see the successful outcomes of recent alumni who had the same major.

Seeking the most recent statistics, the site initially covered the past three years of graduates. But Vice President for Communication Teresa Flannery says that adding an extra year will provide broader reach. "Overall, we think it's better to present four years' worth of data because we can drill down to degree and offer specific outcomes for almost every department," she says.

Bonus Features

While the website originally divulged the percentage of AU students who have taken an internship for academic credit, users can now also get those internship numbers filtered by degree. "You can look at the percentage of students who completed an internship in accounting or international studies, which I think will be meaningful," says Flannery.

The internship data includes undergraduate and graduate students. However, many graduate students do not participate in internships because they are already employed full-time while in school.

A snapshot of popular internships was on the original We KNOW Success site, but the new list of internship locations is much more expansive and filtered by degree. Every employment site where at least five AU students have interned for academic credit is now listed.

In addition, Study Abroad participation rates of AU undergraduate students are broken down by major. The country destinations are presented through data visualizations, as the site links to a map showing where undergraduates have traveled for AU study abroad credits.

Along with the featured "Success Stories" of alumni on the site, faculty profiles have been added to show the widespread mentoring at AU that contributes to successful student outcomes upon graduation.

Data Sharing and Dialogue

The launch of We KNOW Success last year prompted a dialogue between some AU departments and the Career Center. "The site has incentivized the departments to give us more information, and for us to help them," says Career Center Executive Director Gihan Fernando. There's a newly discovered need to share data as a way to accurately reflect each department's student accomplishments. "We've partnered with a couple of departments already," he says.

For even greater completion rates in the future, students in the Class of 2015 are encouraged to fill out the Graduation Census survey. This is available on AU portal when students order their caps and gowns, and later through paper surveys while picking up those caps and gowns. AU officials also follow up several times after graduation through LinkedIn and other channels.

Spreading the Word

Especially with the more targeted internship numbers, the new site shows the link between attending AU and future achievement. "We want to convey that these are significant experiences that contributed to students' success after graduation," says Flannery. "We have really high levels of participation in both internships and study abroad—some of the highest in the country. And the fact that students have those experiences has made them better prepared for job prospects and enrollment in graduate schools."

AU has received positive feedback about the initial website. Internally, students and colleagues have appreciated the information and transparency. And externally, institutions like The Ohio State University and the State Department Fulbright Program have expressed interest in adopting similar models.