UT Dallas Outcomes
About a year ago, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings issued a report calling for more accountability on the part of universities for outcomes among students—that is, some measure of how students are changed by the experiences they have on America’s college campuses. The recent anniversary of this report has generated a lot of news coverage, including a Chronicle of Higher Education podcast by UT System Chancellor Mark Yudof and stories in that publication that also mention UT Dallas’ own participation in efforts to examine this question.
We hear that, statistically speaking, individuals who finish college make up to $1 million more in income over a lifetime than do those whose education falls short of college graduation. In fact, a study released this fall by the College Board named exactly that figure. Data gathered by postsecondary.org, an Iowa-based think-tank that specializes in examining such matters, shows that individuals holding professional degrees had a median annual salary of $100,000 in 2005, while those without college degrees had a median salary of around $47,000. Clearly, college is an investment that pays.
While such broad general measures show advantages accrue to anyone who can achieve some level of higher education, itís also clear that questions about added value truly do vary for each individual student. Itís also clear that the University has an obligation to track how its graduates benefit from their time with us. We at UT Dallas look both to the broad trends that show us how our students are doing overall and to more individual indicators.
For example, according to data from our survey of graduates in engineering and management, UT Dallas grads had consistently higher starting salaries in 2005-2006 than those representing the national average as reflected by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
Another measure of how we add value for students can be found in success rates of those aiming for graduate school. Our students are admitted to law and medical schools at rates far higher than the national averages. Among our 2007 graduates we had acceptances at the top 20 law schools in the country at that time. UT Dallas pre-med majors are admitted on first application to medical school at a rate of 61 percent, against a national admission rate of 49 percent.
Because we attract serious and determined students—we have had the highest average entering SAT score among public universities in Texas for the past three years, and we’re usually among the top 100 colleges and universities in the United States in number of freshmen National Merit Scholars—it might seem like a foregone conclusion that they’d do well. But there are some other statistics worth noting: More than 50 percent of our undergrads are transfer students, and they are not in the aforementioned freshmen groups. However, they succeed notably as well. UT Dallas, along with UT Austin and Texas A&M, has the highest graduation rate in the state for transferring two-year college students: 60 percent have graduated within four years of entering UT Dallas, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
And more than 45 percent of our students are the first in their families to graduate from college. At UT Dallas we absolutely claim our place among the top academic institutions in this state, but what might not be as apparent is that we have a record of being accessible to those who are willing to work hard. Education is a partnership, and at UT Dallas, we believe assessing outcomes is part of creating a better future for our students.
About This Newsletter
The President's Viewpoint is a periodic newsletter distributed to a select group of alumni, friends, faculty and staff. It comes from the desk of Dr. David E. Daniel, President of The University of Texas at Dallas, and provides the ultimate insider’s view on the news and concerns of the university.