Education majors find success post graduation

As the 2012-13 school year comes to a close, Mercyhurst seniors anxiously contemplate what will happen after graduation. They wonder if they will find employment, if they will go to grad school and where they will be living.

Each November, six months after graduation, the Mercyhurst Career Development Center (CDC), reaches out to these new graduates. The CDC emails links to questionnaires, while Ambassadors help with this process through phone calls. The study usually runs until February.

There is no standard for what should be in a post-graduation questionnaire, but the CDC found that the word “positive placement” is comprehensive. It means that graduates are either employed, attending graduate school or both.

This year, Kyle Foust, Ph.D., director of the Career Development Center, found that all of the Education graduates who responded had positive placements six months after graduation.

Twenty-seven out of 30 graduates and 93 percent of the previous students had found positive placement.

Upon hearing that, associate dean of the Hafenmaier School of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Leanne Roberts, Ph.D., reached out to her department graduates and conducted a similar study. Foust, who has two education certificates himself, connected with the education department.

Roberts contacted 30 early childhood and special education graduates, and heard back from 27 of them. She found that 25 of them were employed or enrolled in a master’s program, bringing the positive placement rate to 93 percent.

But why is the status of Mercyhurst alumni important?

Senior education major Lindsey Artman had her own input.

“You will hear the phrase ‘early and often’ in reference to spending time in the classroom with actual students and they mean it,” said Artman. “I have been going into classrooms, observing as well as working with the children since my freshman year. All of these experiences have helped me be much more prepared and equipped for student teaching as well.”

These numbers are even despite more than 200 teacher layoffs in the Erie area.

Foust understands the reason for these results.

“The reason these numbers are increasing is partially because we have reached the bottom or the very bottom of budgetary problems and schools are learning how to react to the decreasing dollar, plus teachers on the higher end of the scale are looking at the changing of the pension rules and are finding that it’s more worthwhile to retire.”