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Shining a Light on Student Outcomes: Announcing Our New Outcome Data Visualization Tool

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It’s no novel revelation that with increasing frequency, we rely on data to direct our choices, from banal to major decision. For digital natives in particular, consulting data prior to making a decision, as inconsequential as purchasing a new brand of toothpaste, is an automatic practice. Yet as students approach the monumental and financially repercussive decision of where (and if) to pursue post-secondary education, they find little data to guide them. At nearly every school, however, a treasure trove of decision-informing data is collecting dust on a shelf in career services, buried inside neglected web pages, or even worse, long forgotten Excel spreadsheets. It’s data that, if leveraged effectively, can inform and positively impact so much of what we do in higher education.  

Employment outcome, or first destination data is universally valuable. For prospective students, it paints a picture of what the future can hold. For current students, it has the power to inspire and direct pathways, encourage purposeful engagement, and eliminate uncertainty about potential outcomes of this massive investment. For institutions, it can inform enrollment, program development and advising strategies, and help faculty and advisors guide students towards rewarding and attainable post-graduate outcomes. While most schools are underutilizing their outcome data, the good news is that it’s long been a best practice to collect this data, and so most institutions have it available. The outcomes and experiences of even a few students can motivate hundreds to pursue opportunities they never thought possible. The opportunity is clear: uConnect is making it incredibly easy to shine a light on this data, to better support students and impact campus-wide strategic initiatives.

Today, we are pleased to announce our new Outcome Data Visualization Tool, a solution to help our university partners easily and dynamically present their employment outcome data treasure. 

 

What is the Outcome Data Visualization Tool?

Our new Outcome Data Visualization Tool allows you to present and promote historical and real-time data from your first destination and employment outcome surveys to students, faculty, administrators, and the entire campus community. The tool effortlessly surfaces data so it's more visible and accessible, and offers users a rich, dynamic, and self-directed user experience to gain crucial insights on demand. All the data is filterable, meaning that every student can find the data most relevant to guide them in their journey, and every administrator and faculty member has the right data at their fingertips to better guide students during their daily interactions.

The Outcome Data Visualization Tool allows you to:

  • Present key visualizations on specific outcomes, such as Top Employers, Employment Industries, Employment Quality, Starting Salaries, Employment Location, and Advanced Degrees

  • Custom annotate each graph and chart to describe and contextualize the data in a way that resonates with your audience

  • Give users the ability to filter data by segments such as class year, major, academic division and even equity affinities 

  • Display your dynamic, filterable outcome data with native branding right on your university or career services website

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Buried treasure and lost opportunity 

At uConnect, we recently launched a survey to gain more insight into what schools are doing with their outcome data, and more than 200 higher education leaders responded. We found that less than 50% of respondents prominently feature outcome data publicly. Given the power of outcome data, that’s a lot of lost opportunity. But when we asked respondents why they weren’t making their data more accessible, the answer was not that they didn’t want to, it was that that presenting outcome data was too onerous and difficult a process. Most schools had no way to visually present their data in any sort of dynamic way. For those that did have a business intelligence (BI) or data visualization tool, nearly all said it wasn’t very accessible, often locked inside the admin dashboard of a closed portal or app, cutting off many of the stakeholders who care most about student outcomes.

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 Building the solution

We were first inspired to build the Outcome Data Visualization Tool in 2017 when we saw a few innovative institutions building in-house solutions to shine a light on pathways and outcomes of former students. First it was one or two, then others started to follow suit. The solutions were simple but captivating.

It was clear that interest was brewing among schools who saw the need to present this data, and it made sense for us to think about this type of feature as it aligned with our goal of helping institutions showcase their career resources and information to raise awareness and inspire career exploration and planning. We focus much of our product development efforts on designing engaging ways for our clients to present information that otherwise can be, well, uninspiring to students. Presenting outcome data fit that criteria but it wasn’t until we started talking to students, faculty and career services professionals that we realized how important this initiative would become.

In the process of developing the Outcome Data Visualization Tool, we listened to the challenges that the Career Services community faces when trying to uncover the buried treasure that is first destination and outcome data. Countless career centers told us that they are bombarded with requests for outcome data, but that that they lack the bandwidth to accommodate all of the different stakeholders across campus who ask for this information, all for different purposes. Institutional research asks for data to advise program development, faculty ask for it to inform curriculum design, parents request the data to help their kids pick a major, enrollment teams want it to inform prospective student decisions, donors to justify gifts, and current students ask for the data to inform and motivate their own career pathways.

Thus in order to be of most value to the higher education community, we knew that the product had to be focused on:

  • Accessibility: An easy-to-use, public-facing tool optimized for access and inclusion, to allow data that was once in the hands of only a few to be accessible to all

  • User experience: A well-designed interface with rich data visualization that inspires engagement, encourages exploration and eliminates traditional barriers to entry for important stakeholders, regardless of technical or data prowess

  • Integration: A complementary solution, powered by a simple data import directly from your existing data sources and outcome surveys, ensuring that the tool saves rather then expends your office’s valuable staff time

  • Self-service: An intuitive dashboard offering students and the community the ability to run their own searches, relieving career services of the the onerous task of creating custom data reports, thus scaling the impact of your data.

 

Dynamic, native, scalable

As a result, the Outcomes Data Visualization Tool is dynamic, and allows end-users to access and manipulate data based on their individual background, interest and career goals. It presents student outcomes in way that reaches a diverse and potentially unlimited audience at scale - without requiring any input or time from career services staff.

Most schools have a solution in place to collect and manage the data, so we focused our efforts on presentation and engagement. The Outcome Data Visualization Tool works with any and all data collection and outcome data survey solutions, including your CSM or survey tools like Qualtrics. 

The Outcome Data Visualization Tool also seamlessly integrates with any school's website to present meaningful career pathways under your institutional brand. In 2017, an EduVentures survey found that the college website was, by far, the #1 place prospective students and parents learn about potential schools and specific academic programs. While any higher ed marketer worth their salt knew this to be true, the study solidified the fact that the college website is a school’s primary marketing tool. Your outcome data needs to live on your website so it's more accessible and best positioned to align your academic programs and degrees with positive career outcomes.   

 

Implement in hours

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For existing uConnect clients, staff and admins can easily add the Outcome Data Visualization Tool to their existing uConnect platform to integrate outcome data into their office branding and messaging. Preview and publish data in seconds, integrate data into custom emails and student communications, and as always, track analytics, right from your administrative dashboard. To activate the new feature, contact our support team in your uConnect dashboard or email us at support@gouconnect.com 

For those new to uConnect, the data visualization tool integrates seamlessly with your existing website. You don't need to license the full uConnect career services marketing platform to use the new Outcome Data Visualization Tool. Regardless of whether you are a current uConnect partner or not, we can apply your university's brand assets and website themes, and give you access to import your data into a secure admin dashboard in hours. Not days, not weeks, not months, hours.

With so many different platforms and procedures for collecting outcome data, ensuring the accuracy and integrity of the data is a crucial consideration. We've built flexible connections to integrate smoothly with your core data sources no matter what information or systems you're currently using. Just upload a .CSV file (Excel or Google Sheets) and the data is presented beautifully, dynamically and immediately - right on your institutional website.

 

Data decides

Historical employment outcome data is one of the most important building blocks for your institution.  But in order for it to effectively motivate and inspire, it must first be highly visible, accessible, and easy to understand.

Nearly every decision made by a member of Generations X, Y, or Z has data behind it:  what restaurant to go to, what jeans to buy, what route to take home from work that day; it’s native and ingrained. If we, as an industry, don’t start presenting the data we have to help students, we run the risk of losing their attention to someone who will.

To learn more about how showcasing outcome data will benefit your students and your institution, drop us a line at info@gouconnect.com.

 

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Cece Carey-Snow
Cece Carey-Snow

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