Each semester, campuses gather information on soon-to-be graduates’ plans for the future. Utilizing Symplicity CSM’s First Destination Survey (FDS) module can make gathering this information easier while tracking who has received the survey, who still needs to fill it out, and more.
However, no matter how easy we make that piece of the puzzle, we know that you still need to do the hard work of connecting with every graduating student to reach that elusive goal of 100% participation. We asked our network of clients and found some great ideas for getting your graduates to participate in your FDS.
Raffles and Instant Giveaways
Whatever it might be—Amazon gift cards, food incentives, university swag, alumni apparel, limited edition university-inspired stickers, etc. — giveaways can be a great way to entice students to fill out your form. Some clients we spoke to are doing giveaways right at the survey table, like one client that told us they gave out a slice of cake in exchange for a response, while others are entering students into a drawing to win big ticket items.
"We give away cords to wear at the commencement ceremony. This enabled us to go from around 50percent knowledge rate to 90percent+ at graduation. We survey for a month before the end of long semesters and have a table at the ceremony line up. We usually average 70percent up to the day of and pick up another 20percent+ at the ceremony. When purchased in bulk, the cords cost around $2 a piece."
Make It Easy
The simple recommendation of “keep it short” says it all. But we’re not just talking about the form here, we’re also talking about where and how you collect it. Make the effort to meet the students where they are by stopping by classes, visiting dorms, stationing at dining commons, sitting in the main student center, having a table at cap and gown distribution, etc. Make it easy for students to run into you and give you what you need.
"We host a ‘senior sendoff’ where we provide the opportunity for seniors to fill out the survey as part of an event that brings together all the resources they will need such as alumni services, graduation cords, financial aid advice, and career guidance. Students are also entered into a drawing for gift cards for filling out the survey."
Spread the Ownership
You might not be in the position to require that faculty help you gather this information, but do take advantage of all partnerships that exist. Collaborate with faculty and administration (e.g., department chairs, academic deans, the administrator of student employment), and take advantage of students’ strong relationships with career coaches and academic advisors – they might be able to track down one of those stragglers at the end.
Require, Require, Require
A common theme among our clients was tying the completion of the FDS to some academic requirement. For example, take advantage of the senior capstone course and make this part of the requirement. Clients are also holding hostage everything related to graduation until completion of the survey such as: graduation tickets, transcripts, cap & gown, walking in the ceremony, etc. If you can collaborate with the team that manages graduation, you can trade something you want for something your students need (and their parents really care about!).
Elevate the Importance
One of the barriers is that students simply don’t understand the importance of sharing this information. When asking for such personal information, make it clear that the data will remain anonymous, and how the data will be shared. Give your students a peek at last year’s reports so they understand how their responses will be used. Help the graduating class understand how this data helps strengthen the university’s reputation and alumni network, build relationships with new employers, help the classes behind them get better jobs, and improve your university’s ranking. Make the connection for them – from articles in the student newspaper to posters and social media posts, you can help them see how they are part of the bigger picture.
Take Advantage of Technology
Your students spend a lot of time online interacting with your university system. Utilize that and try to get a link to your online survey in all those high traffic sites. You can take advantage of the “force” option in CSM, create a pop-up in Blackboard, add a link in the system in which they enter their on-campus employment hours, etc. And don’t forget social media! Link to not just your own social media accounts, but departments, deans, student housing, etc.
"We release and manage an annual Class List. That list is opt-in and includes graduates of that class who agree to discuss their post-graduate employment and/or graduate school choices. Since we release this Class List before the alumni association gets to them, it has emerged as the primary way the graduates stay connected. Students can only access the Class List when they complete the FDS themselves."
And, finally, don’t wait - open your survey very early in fall so as soon as students start accepting positions, you’re ready to be part of that excitement.
Want to learn more about how Symplicity CSM can support your FDS needs? Visit the Symplicity Help Center* to learn from two current Symplicity clients Brett Hobby (Director of the Career Center at Marilyn Davies College of Business at the University of Houston Downtown) and Duygu Yalaz (Associate Director of Career Advising & Professional Development at Colorado School of Mines) on how they’re using the FDS as a powerful tool to collect data related to students and their future employment.
*Don’t forget you have to log into your manager interface and click on Symplicity Help Center to authenticate before that link will work