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The ever-persistent ROI question: What is my degree worth?

January 31, 2023

Dr. Tori McLean Good

Executive Director of Career Development, Converse University

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of EAB.

Not unlike other institutions, Converse University has encountered some major changes over the past several years. A recent name change from Converse College to Converse University, a shift to a coeducational model, and changes in leadership (to name a few) have had impacts on our campus community in spite of COVID-19.

While many things have changed on our campus, one question remains constant: what is the return on investment for students attending Converse? Most importantly: how are we sharing this message with our community-faculty, staff, students, prospective students, and their families?

As a small, private, liberal arts institution in Spartanburg, South Carolina, our resources are not infinite. As the shift in student enrollment changes with future predictions for higher education, demonstrating the value of a Converse education is of the utmost importance. Our website currently shares valuable information; we share static stats about our hefty student-to-faculty ratio, the number of full-time faculty with terminal degrees, our enrollment, and other interesting tidbits. There is an opportunity to share student outcome data with our audiences that demonstrates the power of a Converse degree.

One of the biggest challenges we face as a small campus is lacking a centralized office for data collection. Offices across campus collect what they need for reporting or assessment purposes, but there is no dashboard to share data or even answer what is being collected.

EAB’s Integrating Academic & Career Development Study and the coordinating toolkit were a huge help. It was heartening to see that many of the obstacles to implementation (specifically the silos) were not unique to Converse. One of my goals was to involve more constituents within the process of collecting student outcome data specifically and to see a higher response rate for our first destination survey.

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Through the development of my capstone project, I looked at peer institutions and aspirant institutions to identify how they were (or were not) displaying their FDS data. The results were varied: some institutions did not share this data, some had static documents with charts and graphs, and some institutions had interactive dashboards with the ability to filter responses. In talking with my colleagues, we do not have the ability quite yet to have an interactive dashboard, but we determined we could arrive at a scaled approach that fits the needs of Converse’s stakeholders.

Luckily, Converse has adopted a strategic vision plan focusing on enriching our programs, including career readiness. The work of the strategic vision plan will support this project moving forward as we continue to collect first destination survey data and work on creating a focal point of student outcome data for our stakeholders on our website.

I greatly appreciated the opportunity to be a Rising Higher Education Leader Fellow. Not only did this process push me to complete a necessary and impactful project, I learned so much from the sessions and from my peer group. There are so many incredible things happening in higher ed and I’m very grateful for that reminder.

See the fellows’ blogs from the capstone projects

Dr. Tori McLean Good and others participated in EAB’s Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship in fall 2022

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