Grass on the other side looks greener for May ISU grads

Matt Kuhns

In a little more than a month, another class of Iowa State students will be graduating, with an encouraging job market to look forward to.

“It’s a very good job market right now,” said Director of Career Planning and Placement Beverly Madden.

Commencement coordinator Debbie Lettow said about 2,100 ISU students will receive their undergraduate degrees this semester.

Madden said about 80 percent of those students will enter the workplace immediately, and nearly 16 percent of graduates will continue on with further education.

Madden added that those numbers are significantly different in some departments, especially the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, because it has a large concentration of pre-professional students.

Overall statistics don’t change a lot, Madden said. The percentages of ISU graduates who start working vs. entering graduate school “are fairly consistent year to year,” she said.

Jonathan Fortney, physics major, is among this year’s seniors with plans to attend graduate school after graduation.

Fortney said he has spent a lot of time thinking about post-graduation plans, and that deciding where to seek his graduate degree in particular has been “kind of stressful.”

Fortney said he still has not made his final choice of graduate school, but that he has narrowed his choices down to two, both outside of Iowa.

Byron Olson, mathematics, is another senior planning to attend graduate school next year.

Olson said so far he has spent “not a whole lot” of time making preparations for life after ISU, although he also has ruled out any Iowa schools for graduate studies.

Madden said about half of new ISU graduates who choose to start working directly after school, however, do stay in Iowa, at least at first.

“Some of those students are in temporary or part-time jobs,” Madden said, adding that the longer a class is out of college, usually more of the students will leave Iowa.

She said out of all the graduates in the ISU Alumni Association’s records, only about one-third have Iowa mailing addresses.

Of the ISU students who began college in 1992, 22 percent graduated in four years, she said.

Madden said many students take longer than four years to graduate because of a semester abroad or co-op.

The university encourages students to graduate in four years if at all possible, however, because “every year that you stay here is income forgone,” she said.

Fortney has been at ISU for four years, and said what he looks forward to most about graduating is “just being able to move out” and try some new experiences.

He said the biggest downside to leaving ISU is that “a lot of my friends aren’t graduating” this semester.

Olson said the best aspect of graduation is that “it’s the opportunity to start over” with a clean slate, like coming to college after high school.

Fortney and Olson both said they are planning to attend commencement ceremonies.

Lettow said there’s really no way to predict what percentage of this year’s graduates will go to one of the ceremonies.

“It varies from term to term how many attend,” she said.