April 17, 2009

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By Sam Alcorn

LEWISBURG, Pa. – Despite one of the toughest job markets in years, nearly all of Bucknell University’s Class of 2008 graduates are employed or in graduate school, according to the annual post-graduate survey conducted by the Career Development Center.

The survey found that 93 percent of the class had been successfully placed in jobs or graduate programs within nine months of graduation. || Read complete report

“It’s remarkable. We’re in economic times none of us even imagined just a year ago,” said Pam Keiser, director of the Career Development Center at Bucknell.  “It shows the value of a Bucknell education. It may have taken our graduates a little longer to find some things. They may have needed to have more flexibility. But they continue to be very marketable in the eyes of employers. They continue to be an entity that is wanted and needed within the work force. Their hard work, diligence and searches paid off, not only for employment opportunities but also with graduate school pursuits.”

62 percent employed
Of those placed, 62 percent were employed, 21 percent were in graduate school, 3 percent were both employed and in graduate school and 7 percent were involved in other activities such as volunteering or traveling.

“I’m very pleased to see that the percentage of graduates still seeking is relatively small at this time given the current market conditions,” said Keiser, noting that 97 percent of the Class of 2008 responded to the post-graduate survey. “To get that strong of a response rate from our 2008 grads tells you that they’re very proud of their Bucknell education, they’re very happy to share their good news and confirm for us that the marketplace is seeking them out.”

The high survey response rate is important, too, because it creates a rich database of information about Bucknell graduates.

Value of Bucknell degree
“I do know that a number of our peer institutions do not get near the response rate that we do,” said Keiser. “It’s very credible research to put up against our competitive institutions when prospective students and families are looking at our data and trying to decide what is the value of a Bucknell education and what employers and graduate programs a Bucknell degree might attract.”

A year earlier, 3 percent of the Class of 2007 were seeking placement nine months after graduation.

“Seven percent still seeking at this point in time is significant,” said Keiser. “While I’m sure they were challenged by the downturn in the economy and their searches may have taken more time and required more flexibility or compromise, I am pleased to see so many individuals reporting success within this period of time.”

Of those reporting employment, 62 percent were in business, 13 percent in education, 12 percent in government and nonprofit organizations and 8 percent in research and industry.

Graduate programs
Of those entering graduate programs, 33 percent were in professional programs (medicine, law and business), 22 percent in humanities and social sciences, 16 percent in science and 12 percent in engineering. The number entering medical school, for example, rose to 16 percent from 13 percent a year earlier. Likewise, graduate science program enrollment rose to 16 percent from 10 percent.

The number of those entering graduate programs rose 2 percentage points in the 2008 survey, an increase that is typical in a slow economic environment, Keiser said.

“For the most part, when the economy is good, graduate school interest is lower because there is more opportunity within the marketplace,” she said. “On the flip side, when the economy is more turbulent, you tend to see more students consider graduate programs. Our concern as a career counselor is that students are looking at graduate school for the right reasons – not as an escape from the marketplace but as another component in their background that is going to make them more marketable.”

79 percent in Northeast
The report also found that 79 percent of the Class of 2008 graduates located in the Northeast corridor of the United States – from Boston to metropolitan Washington, D.C. Two percent reported international destinations – from Brazil and Japan to Kenya and Pakistan. Twenty-six percent remained in Pennsylvania.

Salaries offered to 2008 graduates rose in three of four categories. The average salary for the class as a whole was $47,865, up from $46,653 the prior year. The average salary for engineering graduates was $55,157, up from $54,856. And the average salary for a bachelor of science in Business Administration was $53,945, up from $50,840.

The College of Arts and Sciences mean salary was $41,506, down from $44,233. Keiser said the decline could be related to the economy and smaller bonuses being offered in 2008 and the nonprofit industry feeling the economic pinch.

Some 48 percent of the class respondents secured employment through on-campus interviews, offers from former employers, networking events, alumni and faculty contacts and online listings. Cold calls, classifieds and employment agencies were successful methods for 26 percent of the respondents.

Top employers
Top 2008 employers include Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Goldman Sachs, Deloitte, Ernst and Young, General Electric and Teach for America.

Bucknell’s post-grad report has been conducted annually since 1984.

Contact: Division of Communications