Employment and Graduate School Rates High for Southern Virginia Alumni

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Kate Lindsay

In a recent survey of Southern Virginia University alumni, of all those who sought full-time employment, nearly nine-in-ten were employed within 12 months of graduation.

“Southern Virginia graduates are finding full-time employment and doing so in a short period of time,” said Dr. John Armstrong, associate provost at Southern Virginia, who administered the survey. “Many of them are going to graduate school in important professions — medicine, law, business, dentistry, teaching, social work, public administration, architecture — as well as in the arts and sciences.”

According to the survey, more than four-in-ten Southern Virginia graduates had started a graduate, professional, certificate or licensure program — compared to roughly one-in-ten Americans 25 or older that had attended graduate school according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Additionally, nine alumni had begun Ph.D. programs at the time of the survey.

“I definitely felt well-prepared [for graduate school],” said Kate Lindsay, who received a bachelor’s degree from Southern Virginia in 2006 and went on to receive a master’s degree in business administration from Brigham Young University in 2010. “I think the best thing I learned at Southern Virginia University is that I needed to form my own opinions about the topics we were going to discuss and that coming to class prepared to have an intellectual discussion was far more beneficial than being a passive observer.”

The survey was given in June and July 2011 to all 863 alumni who had received bachelor’s degrees from Southern Virginia since its renewal as a liberal arts institution in 1996. Seventy-four percent of the graduates responded to the survey. Employment and graduate placement statistics were based on the 566 responses of those who graduated prior to 2011.

“I see my classmates and the people with whom I graduated taking the vision of the school to the next level,” said Travis Bowen, an attorney who received a bachelor’s degree in business management and leadership from Southern Virginia in 2003 and a juris doctorate from George Washington University. “Whether it’s in their small town business or in Washington, D.C., I see everyone making a big impact… [Southern Virginia] intimately prepared them to be successful whatever their chosen field.”

Of those who sought employment, many began working full time immediately after graduation. Two-thirds began working full time within three months of graduation and eight-in-ten found full-time employment within six months.

Many of the alumni held management positions in a variety of industries. Survey respondents reported working in fields including information technology, social work, public education, web design, insurance, banking, health care, retail, real estate, publishing, law enforcement, pharmaceuticals and human resources.

Armstrong said that Southern Virginia prepares students well for graduate school in a variety of disciplines.

“A liberal arts college is just the place to go if you want to go to graduate school,” he said. “It will prepare you for the type of experience you will have in graduate school, which includes smaller classes, more intense discussion, and lots of research-based writing.”

Beyond graduate school, Lindsay, who currently is the senior financial analyst of Capital Planning at CBI, Inc., said that her liberal arts education at Southern Virginia continued to be of use to her in a real-world career.

“Having the confidence to be an active participant in meetings and having the mindset of solving problems by asking questions and digging deeper — from Southern Virginia philosophy classes — has been a huge benefit to me in my career,” said Lindsay.

Many in the remaining percentage of alumni — who did not seek employment or attend graduate school upon receiving a bachelor’s degree — served full-time missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, chose to be full-time homemakers, or engaged in other worthwhile pursuits.

“The evidence is there,” said Bowen. “People are going out and doing great things after they graduate.”