Andrew Seguin BS’09 packed 10 items into a backpack, straddled his blue Kawasaki motorcycle and embarked on a six-month cross-country journey to clear his head before pursuing a career. The University of Texas at Dallas computer science graduate spent his college years acing tests and completing all of the work his professors put before him. But he had struggled to connect what he learned in the classroom with the world outside.
So he decided to first go experience it, mile by mile.
Ultimately, his trek ended with opportunity. After his first job at Amazon and his second at Google, Seguin said things clicked into place.
“The education just came right back to me. I thought about my lessons and what I was taught and I realized that I was really prepared,” said Seguin, now 27. “I was working alongside people with degrees from Carnegie Mellon, Cornell and MIT and that was the first time that I recognized that a degree from UT Dallas was top-notch.
I didn’t need to go to an Ivy League school. Every opportunity was there for me.”
Every graduate’s road is different. Some know from the beginning the direct route to their careers; for others it takes time and a few detours through new experiences to find their professional paths. But for many students and their families who must shoulder a greater share of the higher education investment than in generations past, the journey begins with a more fundamental question: Is college worth it?
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Call it a value proposition.
In recent years, the national conversation about higher education has focused on whether the time and money spent in college pays off in the workplace. Measurable results such as alumni employment rates, starting salaries and student indebtedness are often cited as proof.
By those criteria, UT Dallas graduates are faring well financially. Alumni who graduated with bachelor’s degrees in the University’s top five majors are earning between $53,871 and $78,711 after five years in their careers, according to statistics from The University of Texas System. University figures show 84 percent of bachelor’s degree graduates either are hired right out of school or go on to seek advanced degrees. The majority of the University’s graduates leave with no college debt, bucking a national trend in the other direction.
There are other results, though, that matter as much to President David E. Daniel. While pleased that UT Dallas degrees are proving to pay off in the workplace, Daniel and other campus leaders are guided by a greater philosophy: building a culture with high expectations, room for risk and innovation, and a sense of social responsibility.
In other words, providing the building blocks for a good life.
“I don’t think that college should just be a training ground for a job,” Daniel said. “It needs to be a balance of training for that first job but also an education for a lifetime.”
The University’s focus is validated by a 2014 study conducted by Gallup and Purdue University. Called “Great Jobs, Great Lives,” the report found that college graduates were twice as likely to be engaged in their jobs and content in their lives if they had enjoyed a rich college experience, often marked by professors who served as mentors, involvement in months-long projects or engaging internships.
“Feeling supported and having deep learning experiences means everything when it comes to long-term outcomes for college graduates,” the report concluded.
Read the full version of this story and other articles in UT Dallas Magazine’s online edition.
For More Information
UT Dallas’ Outcomes website provides resources and data about earnings, average student loan debt and employment after graduation for UT Dallas students.
Similarly, seekUT, developed by the UT System, offers information from all of the System’s institutions, making it possible to search and compare salary data for individual majors, debt levels and a host of other statistics.