June 15, 2012

Students in graduation regalia.
Bucknell University graduates value their investment in a liberal arts education

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By Andy Hirsch

LEWISBURG, Pa. — While the weak U.S. economy continues to keep unemployment rates above 8 percent, and more than half of bachelor-degree holders under the age of 25 are struggling to find adequate work, Bucknell University alumni are finding their investment in a Bucknell education is paying off.

A report released last month shows 71 percent of Bucknell's Class of 2011 were employed within nine months, far above the national average and a significant increase from 2010.

The full results are available in The Postgraduate Report of Activity for the Class of 2011.

"That jump indicates that we are seeing some positive movement within the job market," said Pamela Keiser, executive director of Career Services at Bucknell. "It also shows Bucknellians are successfully connecting with employers. In a job market that is highly competitive, applicants must stand out. Clearly Bucknellians set themselves apart from the rest of the field."

According to the report, an additional 18 percent of Bucknell's Class of 2011 enrolled in graduate or professional school, 3 percent were both employed and enrolled in graduate or professional school part-time and 5 percent indicated they were taking time to volunteer, travel or both.

Only 3 percent of 2011 graduates were still job searching, half the number of 2010 graduates that were still looking for work nine months after commencement.

"It's credible evidence of the continued value of a Bucknell education within the marketplace," Keiser said.

The report comes on the heels of a study showing alumni of private liberal arts colleges believe their education has dramatically benefited their lives and careers. The study was commissioned by the Annapolis Group, a consortium of 130 leading liberal arts colleges. II Related content: Bucknell Magazine article; Report: The Value and Impact of the College Experience; Watch the Annapolis Group Chair discuss the results

Compared to graduates of top public universities and top private research universities, liberal arts alumni rated their colleges most highly in preparing them for first jobs, career changes and advancement, and overall preparation for life after college. They were more likely than any other group to have graduated in four years and to credit their undergraduate experience for helping them solve problems, make effective decisions, think analytically, write and speak effectively and work as part of a team.

"This study is testimony to the lasting value of a residential liberal arts education," said Bucknell president John Bravman. "In the public debate about the value of higher education, it is exciting to have a national study in which alumni say institutions like Bucknell are providing an education that prepares them for a lifetime of success and fulfillment."

According to the report, liberal arts college graduates are more likely to say they experienced a sense of community, participated in smaller classes and had professors challenge them, work with them on independent study or research projects, talk with them outside of class and become their mentors. These activities, collectively termed student engagement, have been identified by scholars as essential components of an effective education.

Contact: Division of Communications