Lebanon Valley College (LVC) was recently ranked by Zippia as the No. 1 school in the United States for getting students into jobs, with a placement rate of more than 96%. According to an annual survey by LVC, 88% of its 2016 graduates are either currently employed or enrolled in graduate school. And of those graduates who are employed, 91% say that their employment is related to their degree.
I set out to understand how the small, rural liberal arts college achieves such impressive job outcomes—and what other colleges might be able to learn from them.
The Edward and Lynn Breen Center for Graduate Success at LVC encourages career planning early on and affirms the “interrelatedness of liberal learning and the ideal of vocation.”
LVC attributes the success of their students to the availability of student research opportunities, competitive internships, and faculty and alumni mentorships. Here’s a breakdown of each practice:
Undergrad research opportunities: The school began allowing undergraduates to participate in faculty research in the 1940s, long before the practice was the norm at other undergraduate institutions, according to their site. Research opportunities at LVC prepare students for both graduate school and careers, and the college offers up $50,000 in research grants each year for interested students.
The college also offers a full-time, paid program—called Research First—that allows incoming first-year students to participate in laboratory research during the summer before they start regular classes.
Competitive internships: Career services staff members, along with faculty advisors and internship coordinators, help students find internship opportunities in their academic disciplines and meet application deadlines. LVC also offers internship grants, delivers internship awards, and holds annual internship events—like internship fairs and EACE Road Trips to the Real World, which allow students to shadow professionals and explore career opportunities.
Mentorships: With a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, students at LVC have the opportunity to form an informal support network. For a more structured approach, students can opt to join Career Connections, an online mentoring program that connects students with recent graduates.
One LVC alumna says the program helped her employer hire a fellow LVC grad. “An LVC senior reached out to me… I set up a time for her to come in and shadow me at my job. Once there, she confirmed that it was indeed the type of work she had been looking for. My department at the time was looking for candidates, so she applied for an interview, which led to a job opportunity. The message she sent me via the [Career Connections] program was the first step in the whole process.”
LVC isn’t resting on its laurels. In a press release celebrating its place on the Zippia list, LVC announced that it plans to unveil even more programming this fall (Brown, Zippia, 6/6; Breen Center site; accessed 6/29; LVC career connections site, accessed 6/29; LVC graduates site, accessed 6/29; LVC internships site, accessed 6/29; LVC press release, 6/6; LVC research site, accessed 6/29).