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VSA 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 immediately prior to May Commencement, 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 via paper forms. The questions are as follows:

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

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 who completed their degrees in May and are walking in the May Commencement ceremony. As the survey is administered via paper at Commencement, the graduating senior must be at Commencement to complete the survey.

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

Response rates for the survey

Through Spring 2014, the survey was administered via Sakai in spring, summer and fall, and included all graduating seniors with access to the Sakai system; for May 2015 and afterward, the survey was conducted for May graduates only, at Commencement. 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%
May 2015 471 244 51.8%
May 2016 429 204 47.6%