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The Voluntary System of Accountability College Portrait Future Plans Survey

What is the VSA?

The Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) is an effort by public, four-year universities to provide a uniform set of information about the undergraduate student experience to prospective students, parents, and others who are interested. The result is the College Portrait, a Web-based report of this information for each participating institution. More information on the VSA can be found at

What is the College Portrait?

The College Portrait is the method by which the VSA provides this information to the public. Each participating institution is represented by a Web-based Portrait, which allows comparison of multiple institutions on similar criteria. The main College Portrait website is at, and Shepherd’s College Portrait is available at

What is the Future Plans Survey? How is the resulting information used?

The Future Plans survey is a survey of graduating seniors, designed to collect information about planned activity immediately after graduation. This information is collected from graduating seniors just prior to graduation, and the responses are used to provide information for the “Future Plans of Bachelor’s Degree Recipients” part of the College Portrait.

What does the survey look like?

The survey is a two-question survey, administered through Sakai. The questions are as follows:

1. What is MOST LIKELY to be your main activity or activities upon graduation? (Select all that apply.)

  • Employment, full-time paid
  • Employment, part-time paid
  • Graduate or professional school, full-time
  • Graduate or professional school, part-time
  • Additional undergraduate coursework
  • Military service
  • Volunteer activity (e.g., Peace Corps)
  • Starting or raising a family
  • Other (please specify in question #2)

2. If you chose Other in question #1, please provide further information here. [This is an open-ended text-response question.]

Who can respond to the survey? How do I respond to the survey?

The survey is limited to graduating seniors with Shepherd email addresses on file. If you are graduating at the end of the semester, and have a campus email address on file, you will receive an email alerting you to the survey and asking for your participation. Directions for response to the survey will be provided in that email; they are also included below. The survey will only take a few minutes to complete.

Is my response anonymous?

Yes. Since you don't have to provide information on your identity to respond to the survey, your identity remains confidential. The only way in which your response could be linked to your identity would be if you provided individually identifying information in the “Other” text box in the second question.

Why should I respond to the survey?

Your response will provide us with valuable information about what you plan to do after you graduate from Shepherd. When combined with the responses of your classmates, this information can help prospective students to see what Shepherd graduates typically do after graduation, and to better understand how their Shepherd experiences have changed their lives. You can also see what your classmates plan to be doing!

What if I want to know more?

More information about the VSA is available at Shepherd’s current College Portrait is available at, and the main College Portrait website is at If your question is not answered at the above links, you can send it to the Office of Institutional Research at

How to complete the survey:

  • Point your Web browser to the link that you received in your Shepherd email.
  • Read the information presented to you. When you’re ready to start the survey, click the “Begin Assessment” button.
  • There are two questions in the survey. The first asks you about your most likely principal activity upon graduation. Select the appropriate response(s). If none of the provided options are appropriate, choose “Other.”
  • If you chose “Other” for the first question, please fill in additional information in the second question. If you chose another option, no response is needed for the second question.
  • Once you are done with the second question, click "Submit".
  • At the next screen, you will be warned that you are about to submit your responses. If you are ready to do so, click "Submit".
  • You will be notified that you have completed the survey. Click “Return” to go to the Sakai login page, or close your Web browser.

Response rates for the survey

The survey is administered using the Sakai courseware system. The survey is conducted three times per year: Spring, Summer, and Fall; the survey sample includes all graduating seniors with access to the Sakai system. Response rates are as follows.

Semester Graduating seniors in sample Respondents Response rate
Summer 2010 - Spring 2011 585 32 5.5%
Spring 2012 399 18 4.5%
Fall 2012 - Spring 2013 672 36 5.4%
Summer 2013 - Spring 2014 896 94 10.5%


Office of Institutional Research | P.O. Box 5000 | Shepherdstown, West Virginia | 25443-5000 | 304-876-5112 | 800-344-5231 | FAX 304-876-3101