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Education Statistics Quarterly
Vol 1, Issue 3, Topic: Featured Topic: Life After College
Life After College: A Descriptive Summary of 1992-93 Bachelor's Degree Recipients in 1997, With an Essay on Participation in Graduate and First-Professional Education
By: Alexander C. McCormick, Anne-Marie Nuņez, Vishant Shah, and Susan P. Choy
 
This article was originally published as the Executive Summary of the Statistical Analysis Report of the same name. The sample survey data are from the Second Follow-up of the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B).
 
 

When followed up in 1997, 1992-93 college graduates as a group were well established in the labor force, with 89 percent employed (figure A). Not all had finished their formal education, however: 18 percent were enrolled for an advanced degree or certificate (13 percent combining school and work, and 5 percent enrolled only). The remaining 6 percent were neither working nor enrolled (with females about twice as likely as males to be in this situation).

This report uses data from the Second Follow-up of the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:93/97) to describe the enrollment and employment experiences of 1992-93 bachelor's degree recipients. At the beginning of the report, an essay examines a number of aspects of their experiences with graduate and first-professional education. Specific topics include their degree expectations in 1993; changes in their expectations between 1993 and 1997; steps they took to prepare for study at the graduate or first-professional level (taking the necessary examinations, applying for admission, and being accepted); their enrollment; and their progress toward advanced degrees if they did enroll.

A compendium of tables and highlights following the essay details aspects of graduates' employment in April 1997 (including how much they were working, their occupations, and their salaries), their experiences with unemployment since they graduated, and various characteristics of their primary jobs in April 1997.

Educational expectations

When asked about their educational plans in 1993, a large majority of 1992-93 bachelor's degree recipients (85 percent) reported that they expected to earn a graduate or first-professional degree sometime in the future. By 1997, the percentage with this expectation had declined to 72 percent.

There were some differences by gender and race/ethnicity in terms of the percentages with advanced degree expectations and how expectations changed over time. In 1993, female graduates were slightly more likely than male graduates to have advanced degree expectations (87 percent versus 83 percent). By 1997, however, the difference had diminished, and they were about equally likely to expect to earn an advanced degree (73 percent of females and 71 percent of males).

In 1997, black and Hispanic graduates were more likely than white graduates to expect to earn an advanced degree (85 percent and 79 percent versus 70 percent, respectively). Advanced degree expectations dropped more for whites (15 percentage points) between 1993 and 1997 than for blacks (4 percentage points).

Undergraduate borrowing did not seem to discourage graduates from considering advanced degrees. In 1993, borrowers and nonborrowers had similar expectations, and in 1997, borrowers were actually more likely than nonborrowers to report advanced degree expectations (74 percent versus 70 percent).

Changes in graduates' advanced degree expectations differed depending on their original degree expectations. The percentage of bachelor's degree recipients who expected to earn a master's degree as their highest degree decreased slightly between 1993 and 1997 (from 58 percent to 54 percent), while the percentage expecting to complete a doctoral degree declined sharply (from 21 percent to 12 percent). The percentage expecting to earn a first-professional degree was similar in both years (about 6 percent).

Progression to graduate and first-professional education

One of the first steps toward admission to an advanced degree program is to take one of the admissions exams, such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), or Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). By 1997, 39 percent of all 1992-93 bachelor's degree recipients had taken a graduate admissions exam and 41 percent had applied for admission to a graduate or first-professional program. Thirty-five percent had been accepted into at least one program, and 30 percent had enrolled (table A).

Students who applied to advanced degree programs had a good chance of being accepted somewhere. Among those who had applied by 1997, 87 percent were accepted into at least one program.

Undergraduate debt may discourage students from continuing their education. Bachelor's degree recipients who had borrowed for their undergraduate education were slightly less likely than nonborrowers to have applied for admission to a graduate or first-professional program (38 percent versus 42 percent). The amount borrowed did not seem to make a difference, however.

Students' performance in college was positively associated with applying, being accepted, and enrolling (table A). Graduates with cumulative grade-point averages (GPAs) of 3.5 or above at their baccalaureate institution were at least twice as likely as those with GPAs under 2.5 to apply, and about three times as likely to enroll.

Among the 50 percent of graduates with GPAs of 3.5 or above who applied for admission to a graduate or first-professional program, 91 percent were accepted. Eighty-three percent of those who were accepted enrolled.

Figure A—Percentage distribution of 1992-93 bachelor's degree recipients according to employment and enrollment status in 1997
Figure A-Percentage distribution of 1992-93 bachelor's degree recipients according to employment and enrollment status in 1997

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1993 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study, Second Follow-up (B&B: 93/97), Data Analysis System.


Participation in graduate and first-professional education

Most postbaccalaureate enrollment by 1997 was at the master's level. Of the 30 percent of the 1992-93 bachelor's degree recipients who had enrolled in an advanced degree program by 1997, about three-quarters were pursuing a master's degree (10 percent were seeking an MBA and 66 percent were working on other master's degrees). Another 14 percent were enrolled in a first-professional degree program, and the remaining 10 percent were enrolled in a doctoral program.

Men and women were equally likely to enroll in a graduate or first-professional program, but gender differences in the types of degrees pursued were pronounced. Three-quarters of enrolled women were in a master's degree program other than an MBA, compared with about half (54 percent) of enrolled men. In contrast, men were twice as likely as women to enroll in an MBA program (14 percent versus 6 percent). Men were also more likely than women to enroll in a first-professional program (18 percent versus 10 percent) or doctoral program (13 percent versus 7 percent).

Differences existed by race/ethnicity as well. For example, Asian/Pacific Islander graduates who continued their education were about twice as likely as graduates from other racial/ethnic groups to enroll in a first-professional program (35 percent versus 12-17 percent), and they were less likely to enroll in non-MBA master's degree programs (46 percent versus 66-70 percent).

Overall, 49 percent of 1992-93 graduates who enrolled in a graduate or first-professional program by 1997 did so within a year of earning their bachelor's degree, and another 23 percent enrolled within 2 years. Doctoral students were the most likely to have enrolled within a year of graduation (78 percent did so), followed by first-professional students (55 percent) and then those entering a master's program other than an MBA (46 percent). MBA students were the least likely to enter this soon (29 percent), and one-third of them waited more than 3 years before enrolling.

Table A—Percentages of 1992-93 bachelor's degree recipients who took steps toward admission and enrolled: 1993-97
Table-A Percentages of 1992-93 bachelor's degree recipients who took steps toward admission and enrolled: 1993-97

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1993 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study, Second Follow-up (B&B: 93/97), Data Analysis System.


Figure B—Percentage distribution of 1992-93 bachelor's degree recipients according to attainment and enrollment status: 1997
Figure B-Percentage distribution of 1992-93 bachelor's degree recipients according to attainment and enrollment status: 1997

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1993 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study, Second Follow-up (B&B: 93/97), Data Analysis System.


Table B—Percentage distribution of 1992-93 bachelor's degree recipients according to graduate or first-professional degree enrollment and attainment when interviewed in 1997, by highest program enrolled
Table B-Percentage distribution of 1992-93 bachelor's degree recipients according to graduate or first-professional degree enrollment and attainment when interviewed in 1997, by highest program enrolled

1Includes those who enrolled but left before 1997.

2Includes post-master's certificate.

NOTE: Details may not sum to totals due to rounding.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1993 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study, Second Follow-up (B&B: 93/97), Data Analysis System.


Education and business were the fields most commonly studied, chosen by 22 and 18 percent, respectively, of the 1992-93 bachelor's degree recipients who had enrolled in an advanced degree program by 1997. About one-third (31 percent) of students enrolled in a master's program other than an MBA sought a degree in education. At the doctoral level, about one-quarter (24 percent) of students were studying the life and physical sciences (compared with about 5 percent of those pursuing a master's degree).

Enrollment patterns varied markedly with degree program. Among those enrolled in April 1997, 94 percent of those working on a first-professional or doctoral degree were enrolled full time. In contrast, a majority of non-MBA master's students (59 percent) were enrolled part time. About two-thirds of MBA students attended part time. About three-quarters (77 percent) of all MBA students attended classes on weeknights.

Progress toward an advanced degree reflects the combined effects of enrollment duration, enrollment intensity (full or part time), success in the courses taken, and program requirements. Of those who had enrolled for an advanced degree or certificate at any time since earning a bachelor's degree, 71 percent of doctoral students, 56 percent of MBA students, and 32 percent of non-MBA master's students were enrolled when interviewed in 1997. The rest had either completed their degree or left without completing.

Of doctoral students who enrolled within a year of earning their bachelor's degree, 57 percent had not completed their coursework by 1997, and 46 percent had not taken their exams. However, the majority (59 percent) had started on their thesis.

Just over one-half (56 percent) of 1992-93 bachelor's degree recipients who pursued an advanced degree received some type of financial aid to help pay for their education. Fifty-three percent of students in first-professional programs received loans but no grants, compared with 18-25 percent of students in other programs. Doctoral students were the most likely to receive an aid package that included grants and no loans (28 percent versus 5-12 percent of students in other degree programs). MBA seekers were the most likely to receive only employer benefits (18 percent versus no more than 4 percent for students in other degree programs).

As indicated above, 30 percent of 1992-93 graduates had enrolled in a graduate or first-professional program between the time they graduated and when they were interviewed in 1997. At the time of the 1997 interview, 21 percent had persisted—that is, they had either attained a graduate or first-professional degree or were enrolled and working toward a degree (figure B). The other 9 percent had left without a degree. Of the 21 percent who persisted, about half (10 percent) had attained a degree and were no longer enrolled. Another 1 percent had attained one degree and were enrolled for additional education, and the remaining 10 percent were enrolled but had not yet earned an advanced degree.

Persistence was lowest among students who had enrolled for a master's degree other than an MBA (table B). About one-quarter of doctoral students had completed one degree and were still enrolled.

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Employment patterns

Among 1992-93 bachelor's degree recipients, 89 percent were employed in April 1997 (81 percent full time and 8 percent part time). An additional 3 percent were unemployed, and the remaining 8 percent were out of the labor force.

There were some gender differences in employment patterns. Men were slightly more likely than women to be employed (91 percent versus 88 percent), and women more likely than men to be working part time (11 percent versus 6 percent).

About three-quarters of the bachelor's degree recipients had held more than one job since graduation. The average number was 2.8.

Occupation types and salaries

About one-fifth (21 percent) of the 1992-93 graduates who were employed in April 1997 had jobs in business and management, and 16 percent were working as teachers. Fourteen percent had administrative jobs, and 11 percent had jobs in professional fields other than education, business, health, or engineering.

The overall average annual salary for graduates working full time was $34,252, but average salaries varied considerably by undergraduate major. Engineering majors, for example, were earning an average of $44,524 in April 1997, while education majors were earning an average of $26,513.

Experience with unemployment

For 1992-93 bachelor's degree recipients, the unemployment rate in April 1997 (calculated excluding those out of the labor force) was 2.9 percent. As a point of reference, the U.S. unemployment rate for adults 25 years and older was 3.7 percent at that time.

Job characteristics

Among the 1992-93 bachelor's degree recipients who were working in April 1997, 56 percent reported that their job was closely related to their degree, and 57 percent reported that their job had definite career potential. Five percent had part-time jobs but would have preferred to be working full time.

Most (80 percent) of those employed in April 1997 were very satisfied with their coworkers. Sixty percent were very satisfied with their supervisor, and 56 percent with their working conditions. The proportion reporting that they were very satisfied with their working conditions ranged from 42 percent of those in military/protective service occupations to 66 percent for those in engineering occupations.

Bachelor's degree recipients had found their April 1997 jobs in a variety of different ways, including referrals (35 percent), want ads (22 percent), and employment agencies (8 percent).

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When they graduated from college, 85 percent of 1992-93 bachelor's degree recipients expected to earn an advanced degree. By 1997, 30 percent had actually enrolled. Twenty-one percent had either attained a degree or were still enrolled, and 9 percent had left without a degree.

Overall, 89 percent were employed in April 1997—76 percent were working only, and another 13 percent were combining school and work. Relatively few (5 percent) were enrolled only. The remaining 6 percent were neither working nor enrolled.

Data source: The 1993 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study, Second Follow-up (B&B:93/97).

For technical information, see the complete report:

McCormick, A.C., Nuņez, A.M., Shah, V., and Choy, S.P. (1999). Life After College: A Descriptive Summary of 1992-93 Bachelor's Degree Recipients in 1997, With an Essay on Participation in Graduate and First-Professional Education (NCES 1999-155).

For details on B&B:93/97 methodology, see

Green, P., Myers, S., Veldman, C., and Pedlow, S. (1999). Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study: 1993/97 Second Follow-up Methodology Report (NCES 1999-159).

Author affiliations: A.C. McCormick, A.M. Nuņez, V. Shah, and S.P. Choy, MPR Associates, Inc.

For questions about content, contact Paula R. Knepper (paula.knepper@ed.gov).

To obtain the complete report (NCES 1999-155), call the toll- free ED Pubs number (877-433-7827), visit the NCES Web Site http://nces.ed.gov or contact GPO (202-512-1800).

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