More College Graduates Continuing Their Education in Pursuit of Increased Earnings and Career Advancement
An increasing number of college graduates are returning to school to continue their education, not due to lack of employment options, but in pursuit of higher earnings, interesting and challenging career opportunities and enhanced status. A new report co-authored by the Higher Education Quality
Council of Ontario (HEQCO), The Transfer Experience of Ontario College Graduates who Further their Education: An Analysis of Ontario’s College Graduate Satisfaction Survey also found that Ontario’s college graduates were satisfied overall with their transfer experience, but gaps still remain in connecting students with available information and providing effective credit recognition.
The report is based on data from 2001-2002 to 2006-2007 from the Ontario government’s mandated Graduate Satisfaction Survey, which collects information on employment status and graduate satisfaction. In 2005 Ontario’s colleges and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities expanded the survey to collect additional data from students who had continued their education after graduation, to better understand their motivation, satisfaction with preparation for further studies and the transfer experience. The report analyzes both the responses to the original questions as well as the additional questions on transfer experience.
Regardless of the choice of college or university to continue their education, improved career advancement opportunities had a significant impact on their decision. In the case of those pursuing a bachelor’s degree, completion of a college program was viewed as a necessary step towards achieving that goal. While these behaviours can be seen throughout the graduate population in general, there are differences in motivation and pathways between program areas.For example students enrolled in hospitality programs most often reported a change in career as a reason for continuing their education. Once a student has made the decision to continue their education, the majority continue their studies in the same geographic region.
The transfer experience itself was found to be satisfactory by nearly 80 per cent of Ontario college graduates, comparable with the 81 per cent found in the substantially different British Columbia system. However, only 66 per cent of students who entered university received their expected amount of transfer credit, with nearly 30 per cent receiving less.
One area of concern is the ability to provide students wishing to continue their studies with accurate and comprehensive information. While the College University Consortium Council (CUCC) produces a comprehensive guide on the issue, it was only used by just over half ofstudents proceeding to university. The major source of information remains the colleges and universities themselves.
An Agency of the Government of Ontario The Graduate Satisfaction Survey was found to be a valuable source of data for researchers and policy makers and the addition of new questions in recent years will provide better understanding of the student experience and allow institutions to improve their policies and practices. The report calls for additional studies on students a year or more past their graduation to track their performance following the transfer as well as research focused on students who transfer before completing their program.
The authors of this report are Henry Decock, Associate Vice-President Academic at Seneca College, and Ursula McCloy, Shuping Liu and Bin Hu of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.