Students Can Find Vital Details About Schools, Career Prospects with Interactive Tool
Nancy Fairbank, UT Dallas Student Government vice president, shows the location of the University on a map in the Archer Center in Washington, D.C., where a delegation from the UT System had an interview with Politico about seekUT.
When UT System officials wanted U.S. legislators to hear about an online tool that gives data on employment earnings and student loan debt for graduates of the system’s universities, they tapped a UT Dallas undergraduate to help with the presentation.
Student Government vice president Nancy Fairbank traveled recently with the delegation to Washington, D.C., to tout the benefits of seekUT, an interactive online tool developed by The University of Texas System.
The program is designed to help students make more informed decisions about their academic careers by providing information that includes salaries, average student loan debt, job availability and the number of credit hours needed per major by institution for graduates in the UT System.
- The UT System has created seekUT as a resource for students. UT Dallas also provides statistics and information about alumni salaries and job prospects on its Outcomes website.
- Statistics: Grads Leave With Low Debt, Strong Earning Potential
Fairbank, a political science sophomore and a McDermott Scholar, traveled with Dr. Stephanie A. Bond Huie, vice chancellor for the Office of Strategic Initiatives for the UT System, and its director, Dr. David Troutman, to the nation’s capital in an effort to inform government and education leaders of the work at the UT System and how it might be applied at the national level.
The seekUT tool, which is searchable by institution, industry, region and degree in the UT System, shows data for graduates who work in Texas. All wage information comes from the Texas Workforce Commission.
“While seekUT is very useful for students and families attending college and planning to work in Texas, an improvement to the tool would be the addition of data on our students after they leave Texas,” Huie said. “We met with staff members to share seekUT and discuss the missing national data elements.”
Fairbank heard about the trip at a meeting of the UT System’s Student Advisory Council, a group of student leaders who represent each of the system’s institutions and give input on policy issues. She was initially selected to be interviewed for a video about seekUT, and later received the invitation to go to D.C.
“We are pretty law-saturated, but there is predicted growth in certain regions of Texas. I felt good about my decision to come to UT Dallas already. I just feel good about Texas in general.”
The Texas delegation visited with aides for Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. Mario Rubio, R-Fla., who have co-sponsored a bill that would require the secretary of education to report college graduates’ earnings by program of study and which state they’re employed.
The delegation also met with representatives from the House Committee on Education and the Workforce; the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; the American Council on Education; and education reporters from The Chronicle of Higher Education, Politico and Inside Higher Ed.
Fairbank said the trip affirmed her aspiration to work in D.C. one day.
“It was really neat to be there and to meet these people,” she said. “All the staff members we met there were young — in their 20s. I thought, ‘This is something I could do after college.’ This stuff is right up my alley.”
The online tool is an easy sell because it provides such valuable information for students and their families, Fairbank said. It gives one-, five- and 10-year earnings for those with UT System graduate and undergraduate degrees, and shows typical student loan debt for each major. The monthly salary-to-debt ratio makes it easier for students to decide whether it’s worth it to continue in a particular major, she said.
“I wish I’d had seekUT when I applied for college from Missouri,” she said. “I had to do all this research on my own. There was no collection from each school anywhere. I like having predictions of what the salary might be for my major after college.
“We know that petroleum engineers will make more than liberal arts majors, but it was helpful to see that a poli-sci major will make $20,000 more than a general social science major five years out. I think it’s helpful to see the long-term view.”
Fairbank is using seekUT to decide on a law school and to investigate projected job openings for attorneys across the state.
“We are pretty law-saturated, but there is predicted growth in certain regions of Texas,” Fairbank said. “I felt good about my decision to come to UT Dallas already. I just feel good about Texas in general.”
Student Government Leaders Serve on System CommitteeBrooke Knudtson
The University of Texas System has appointed UT Dallas students to two of the four chairs on its Student Advisory Council this year.
Student Government vice president Nancy Fairbank chairs the Academic Affairs Committee for the 2014-15 academic year; president Brooke Knudtson chairs the Student Life Committee.
The council is made up of two students — the student government president and vice president — from all 14 institutions in the UT System. Council members meet three times a year to offer input on policy issues of particular interest to students that are under consideration by the Texas Legislature and the UT System, and make recommendations to the Board of Regents through the chancellor.
As committee chairs, Fairbank and Knudtson help lead part of the Student Advisory Council meetings. Both are political science majors at UT Dallas and plan to attend law school after graduation.
“We lead the brainstorming sessions. You have to facilitate the conversation, but these students are all smart and very much on their game,” Fairbank said.
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].