CINCINNATI - Across our area, college graduates are walking across the stage to accept their diplomas. But for many, uncertainty awaits them on the other side, with a still struggling job market. But 9 News has discovered many of those same universities are just as uncertain about their students' prospects at success because of a shocking lack of data.
We thought our request of local colleges would be simple enough, asking them for recent graduates' job placement rates and then report to you which are best and in what fields, but we surprisingly discovered that not every college tracks that seemingly vital information that ultimately determines a diploma's financial worth.
With an enrollment of more than 40,000, the University of Cincinnati is the Tri-State's largest educational institution. But what happens to UC students after their tassels have been turned and they enter the job market? The university has no idea.
"We have not attempted to compile comprehensive placement statistics for UC for 20 years or more," said UC spokesperson Greg Hand in a written statement.
"That doesn't really surprise me," said UC student Sable Bender. "I feel that recently they are not so focused on academics as they are amping up the sports and things like that."
Cincinnati's main local rival in sports and in the classroom is Xavier. They actively tout their placement numbers with 88 percent of their graduates last school year employed 6 months after graduation.
"We put a lot of emphasis on the numbers, in large part because our students come here, they pay a lot of money for this education, and we want to make sure we understand what they are getting when they are done," said Rick Brown in Xavier's Career Services office.
We found Kari Peglar studying for a marketing research final just days before her graduation.
"What really it comes down to is am I going to have a job at the end, and with Xavier they have striking numbers," said Peglar, a Xavier student-athlete.
And as far as other colleges who don't track their graduates? "They should be very proud of their graduates and I feel like they should track them better," said Peglar.
So why doesn't UC pursue placement numbers? We were given three reasons: the college feels the data is "expensive, incomplete and inaccurate", Hand said in the statement.
"I think that is a pretty big deal, I was a tour guide on campus last year and that a really big question that we get, it's a concern for the parents something they mention," said Bender.
Cincinnati is not alone. Job placement numbers for Northern Kentucky University grads don't exist either. Chris Cole, a spokesperson for NKU acknowledges, "this as a gap in our data collection and (they) have a comprehensive plan in place to address the issue."
"I don't think a lot of kids at first think about what they are going to do after college, because coming from high school you still have that I am going to be in school forever kind of mindset.," said Sarah Gooch, a NKU student.
"And after graduation is it more of a bigger deal,?" asked 9 News Anchor Lance Barry.
"Yes, obviously," replied Gooch.
In Oxford, job placement numbers do exist, but they were not reliable enough to release to us. Miami University Spokesperson Claire Wagner told 9 News, "while numbers were great, only 10 percent of last year's graduates responded to a jobs survey, so our report is incomplete."
But what about at a community college like Cincinnati State?
"We track our students, we look at enrollment, we survey our graduates, our current students," said Anne Foster. Foster is in charge of Cincinnati State's Institutional Research.
Cincinnati State also has impressive placement numbers. Despite a down economy, 71 percent of their graduates last year had work of some kind. But that number jumps to 90 percent when you add in students who continued their education elsewhere, which is common there.
Transferring is what Donald Pollock and Josh Monroe are both planning to do. And with placement numbers in hand, they at least have an idea of what lies ahead.
"It is vitally important that at the end of whatever education you go through you have the prospect of work," said Pollock.
"It's very important, it is probably the number one thing on their mind, if I come in, what am I going to leave with," said Foster.
Cincinnati State says the fields their graduates are finding the most jobs in are all their health fields. Renewable energy jobs are hot as well as culinary jobs.
At Xavier, they are having success placing graduates in a variety of fields with 100% placement in nursing, accounting and computer science fields.
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