The SUNY Journal of the Scholarship of Engagement: JoSE

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With the cost of college on the rise, and students increasingly viewing college as a pathway to a successful career, colleges and universities are under increasing pressure to demonstrate evidence of their effectiveness. High-impact learning experiences, such as internships, study abroad, service-learning, capstones and undergraduate research, have emerged as a promising practice to enhance student development during college; however, few studies have examined the impact of such practices on post-graduate indicators of success. This paper adds to our understanding of the benefits of high-impact learning by examining their influence on student post-graduate employment, continuing education and starting salary. The data in this study includes all 8,746 undergraduates who graduated in May of 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 from a mid-sized public research university in the Northeast. Multilevel multivariate linear, logistic and multinomial regressions, clustered by college or school of study, are used to examine post-graduate placement rates, destinations and starting salaries. The findings indicate that high-impact learning experiences have a significant, positive effect on early post-graduate outcomes, even when accounting for factors such as GPA, field of study, race and Pell-grant eligibility. While GPA and field of study also had a strong influence of these outcomes, high-impact practices had a significant and meaningful effect on overall placement rates, employment, continuing education and starting salaries. These findings add to the evidence that high-impact learning experiences are an important contributor to student success and should be meaningfully integrated into the college experience.