Job Placement as a Measure of Quality
In marketing our academic programs, we publish our job placement rate because we feel this is a measure of quality. On one of our program sheets, we share a statistic from indeed.com that 100% of our graduates for the last three years were employed within six months of graduation. Great stat! The question everyone asks me is: “Is that true?”
This question is always a great opportunity to talk about our pedagogy and the thinking behind our style of education. Although many schools offer internships, co-ops and other forms of experiential learning, Northeastern has placed this form of education at the centre of how we teach and how our students learn. Our instruction is informed and guided by authentic work-based learning at all levels of our curriculum. Faculty members are encouraged to embed real-world experiences in their courses. Our hallmark co-op program brings students to the employer’s environment for four to six months. Our XN Network gives our working professional students the chance to experience a virtual work-based project. Our academic advising model is increasingly being joined with our career-coaching model so our students get solid academic and career guidance at the same time.
All of these efforts bring our graduates closer to the workforce, and as the statistics show, our work is paying off: Over the past decade, Northeastern has been the U.S. leader in post-graduation job placement. Not every one of our programs can claim 100% job placement but compared to many of our counterparts, our graduates outperform!
An executive at a large multi-national marketing firm recently asked me what made our experiential learning different. After all, he noted, many schools are claiming similar work-based learning as part of their value proposition. Here is the difference: Northeastern’s experiential learning is central, not tangential. Co-op and experiential learning is not something we add to our soup; it is the stock in which the soup is made.
For the past decade, I have served as dean at two schools in two countries on two coasts. I can count on one hand the number of adult students who were in our degree programs for personal enrichment. The vast majority of students in these programs were pursing a new credential for a better life. A better life meant the ability to pursue a career that was both personally fulfilling and financially satisfying. They have ambitions to build their careers and have pride in their work and they have a need to provide for their families.
Northeastern’s form of experiential learning has found a way to merge the academic rigour of an internationally ranked research university with the practical skills necessary to have our students find new and satisfying employment. Our growth and our job placement statistics support this claim.
Canadians can be rightfully proud of their higher educational system. Given its size, the Canadian research university system punches above its weight in international rankings. Yet employability is a big issue, especially for recent graduates. Employers in Canada would like university graduates to be better able to enter the workforce without the need for substantial retraining. Even the current Premier of Ontario makes the point that the Ontario advanced educational system needs to bring universities and employers closer together.
I wholeheartedly agree! As we grow and develop our academic programs at the Northeastern University-Toronto campus, we will strive to provide an education to our students so the employers of Ontario can focus on growing their businesses.
John serves as the Founding Principal of the Northeastern University – Toronto