Two separate surveys recently conducted by the Mercyhurst University Career Development Center and the education department revealed job and graduate school placement rates exceeding 93 percent for education graduates from the classes of 2011 and 2012.
The Class of 2011 Graduate Survey for Education, administered by the Career Development Center, reached 27 graduates (a 50 percent response rate) with all reporting that they were either employed in a teaching position or enrolled in a graduate program, marking a 100 percent placement rate. The respondents held degrees in art education, music education, early childhood education or elementary education.
“The combination of academic preparation and practical experience has always served our education majors well,” said Kyle Foust, Ed.D., director of the Career Development Center. “The results from the Class of 2011 are a continuation of strong placement rates associated with the education department for years.”
As a comparison, Leanne Roberts, Ph.D., associate dean of the Hafenmaier School of Education and Behavioral Sciences, conducted a separate survey, this one aimed at baccalaureate graduates from spring of 2012. She reached 27 of 30 early childhood and special education graduates (a 90 percent response rate) with 25 confirming their employment in the field or their enrollment in master's programs, for a placement rate of 93 percent.
“Despite there being very few teaching openings in the immediate area, there are jobs out there for graduates who are willing to go out and find them,” Roberts said.
About two years ago, more than 200 teachers were laid off due to budget cuts in the Erie School District, Roberts noted. Consequently, the district has been working to bring back furloughed employees, leaving few openings for recent graduates.
“When I started at Mercyhurst 12 years ago, I think we would normally tell our students to get subbing positions, become well known in the district, and wait for a position to open up,” said Roberts. “Now, I think unanimously we advise our students to go where there’s a job. The worst thing that can happen is that a job doesn’t work out and you go somewhere else.”
In addition to the mentorship provided to students by Mercyhurst faculty members, Roberts said an outstanding curriculum and extensive hands-on learning opportunities contribute to her graduates’ success. In fact, Mercyhurst education majors take part in many more observation and exploration hours (90) prior to pre-student teaching than is required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (40). Mercyhurst’s education department maintains a strong relationship with the Erie School District, where Mercyhurst students gain experience through the Carpe Diem Academy and a new autism support program at Edison Elementary.
“Mercyhurst gives students several opportunities to take on leadership roles,” said Roberts. “The university develops these young 18-year-old students into mature 22-year-old adults who are completely different when they leave. They are willing to take career risks to get ahead.”
In addition to the strong placement of education graduates, where there was sufficient alumni response (at least 40% for each academic program), the following Mercyhurst degree programs reported a 100 percent job or graduate school placement rate:
Graduate level: anthropology and special education
Baccalaureate level: art education, interior design, music, religious studies, fashion merchandising, international business, anthropology/archaeology, chemistry (B.A. and B.S.), computer systems analysis, mathematics, intelligence studies, English, graphic design, philosophy, accounting, hotel/restaurant management, psychology, biology (B.A. and B.S.), biochemistry, geology, sports medicine and political science.
Associate/Certificate level: medical lab technician.