Thousands of high school students visit campuses each year, hoping to find just the right college. To aid in the search, Purdue University and the Gallup organization have partnered on the Gallup-Purdue Index, a study of 30,000 college graduates.
The study found that college graduates who have achieved great jobs and great lives were more likely to be personally engaged with a faculty member, have participated in an internship, been involved in extracurricular activities and have graduated with manageable student debt. These findings held true regardless of the type of public or private non-profit, four-year institution, no matter whether highly or much less selective. It was the student experience and level of engagement that made the difference—not the rankings.
The partnership offers a checklist to help families assess their options. While prospective students are checking out classrooms, housing and recreational spaces on their campus tours, they also should find out about important factors such as student-faculty engagement, high-impact experiences and affordability.
The checklist encourages students and their parents to ask questions such as:
- What kind of mentorship opportunities does the college/university offer?
- What percentage of students are involved in internship/co-op programs?
- What is the average debt of your students who borrow?
- What is the average starting salary of graduates in the major in which I’m interested?
The checklist, designed to be a supplement to more traditional college checklists, is available for download at: purdue.edu/checklist/college-planning-checklist.pdf.