When people talk about “good schools,” they might be referring to a college’s or university’s faculty, famous alumni, athletic programs, curriculum or reputation for being highly competitive. But what is a “good” school if its graduates have trouble finding work once they’re out in the world?
GOBankingRates identified a list of colleges and universities both public and private, large and small, that stand out for their excellent career placement programs. Some of them are famous and prestigious, others are obscure schools that fly under the radar. All, however, have impressive records of helping their students land jobs upon graduation — earlier, in many cases — that pay well and fit into their chosen field and career goals.
With the pandemic forcing America to rethink the cost and benefits of higher education, these colleges are the ones that are most likely to transform degrees into jobs.
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If Quinnipiac University does some bragging about its career-placement services, it has certainly earned the right. 2021 is the third straight year that the private school in Hamden, Conn., took the No. 1 spot in the Zippia.com “Best Colleges For Getting a Job” rankings. As Quinnipiac points out, Zippia’s list is highly regarded because it tracks graduates for a full decade after they leave college.
Famous for more than just its political polling data, Quinnipiac’s 96.1% placement rate is the best of any college in the entire country, thanks to programs like virtual and on-site career events, peer-to-peer mentoring, and personalized career advisement. Perhaps most importantly, Quinnipiac has a school-specific approach to career placement that lets employers identify and target the right candidates by their academic programs and schools.
Far away from Connecticut is Augustana University in South Dakota. Not only does Augustana rank No. 1 in the state in terms of career placement, but Zippia lists it as No. 2 in the entire country behind only Quinnipiac — and with a career placement rate of 96.05%, it’s not far behind at all.
Augustana stands out for its excellent resume and cover letter resources and interview preparation tutorials, as well as for its vast network of alumni and employers. It also maintains an impressive database of internships, job openings, and volunteer opportunities for students of all class levels.
Ohio Northern University
Ohio Northern has imaginative offerings like Handshake, the platform that the school is adopting for placing students in full-time jobs, internships and co-ops. More than 500,000 employers are on Handshake, including every Fortune 500 company, and 80% of students who fill out a basic profile will hear from a recruiter. The school also offers specialized career help like relocation services and help with transitioning to a new industry or negotiating a better salary. It rounds out the top three on the 2021 Zippia rankings with an impressive 95.86% placement rate.
Syracuse doesn’t land a spot in Zippia’s top 10, and its 86% placement rate can’t compete with the alpha pack that runs in the mid-90s. But placement rates aren’t everything — only around 61% of Harvard grads, for example, entered the workforce within a year of leaving school in 2020.
The more granular details of Syracuse’s career placement services tell a broader story.
A full 90% of those who were employed said their job related to their career goals and almost exactly one in three who were in the workforce had secured a full-time position by the time they graduated.
University of Pennsylvania
Penn is a prestigious and super-competitive Ivy League school, so stellar career services shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Among the Class of 2020, 89% are either employed or continuing their education — and they’re making good money. The median starting annual salary for a Penn grad is $85,000.
More than half of the school’s graduates — 55% — accepted positions by October after graduation. As a testament to the school’s job preparation and placement services, almost exactly half of those working full time — 49% — found their jobs directly through the university’s career services department.
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Few schools incorporate job placement services as thoroughly into student life as UMass, where career planning starts early on in freshman year. Career counselors begin working with students during their first year to explore their interests, skills, and strengths while teaching the basics of resumes and cover letters through early-planning workshops.
During year two, students discuss their career goals and start building their resumes by participating in things like community service programs and student organizations. During their junior year, they build a LinkedIn profile and begin developing both soft and technical skills while planning for internship opportunities. During their senior year, they polish their resumes, attend advanced workshops, identify gaps in their skills and resumes and implement the strategies they’ve developed for success at career fairs, job interviews, and meetings with recruiters.
Also in Massachusetts is Stonehill College, a small, private Catholic school whose impressive 95.83% placement rate is good enough for the top five on the Zippia list. In 2019, 90% of the graduating class was employed, involved in service, or in graduate school within six months. Most of the school’s graduates land a job or grad school placement before they ever receive a diploma.
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