2017 HEDS First Destination Survey

The HEDS First Destination Survey asks graduating seniors and recent college graduates about their post college activities. Institutions can use the survey’s results to assess employment- and career-related outcomes for their graduates and for reports to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). The survey takes less than five minutes to complete and can be administered via mobile devices. Graduating seniors and/or college graduates who complete their degrees between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017 can take the survey. (Download a print version of the information about the 2017 HEDS First Destination Survey.)

There are two versions of the survey: (1) the at-graduation survey, which is given to seniors/recent graduates within 4 weeks of graduation, and (2) the post-graduation survey, which is given to recent graduates more than four weeks out from their graduation. We will use the date of graduation of each participant to determine which survey she or he receives.

Survey Administration

There are two survey administration periods: April 1, 2017–July 31, 2017 and September 1, 2017–December 31, 2017. You can administer the First Destination Survey for any 3–6 week window in one or both of those administration periods. Administration options include:

Administration Period Purpose Suggested Logistics
Spring: April 1, 2017–July 31, 2017 Administer at-graduation survey to collect data at a time when students are more accessible. Ask students to complete the at-graduation survey on their mobile devices during commencement events. Provide paper copies of the survey to students without mobile devices.

(The at-graduation survey may also be administered electronically to seniors within four weeks of their graduation date.)
Fall: September 1, 2017–
December 31, 2017
Administer post-graduation survey to collect data at a time when graduates have solidified their primary post-graduate activities. Invite graduates to take the post-graduation survey via email.
Combination: First administration in the spring and fall follow-up (1) Ask graduates if anything has changed since they filled out the survey in the spring.
(2) Increase the response rate by asking spring nonresponders to take the fall survey.
Combines the above

We have designed the HEDS First Destination Survey so that it takes into account your Knowledge Rate. If you choose to administer the survey both in the spring and fall, we will send you the spring data file between administrations so that you can update the spring data file with information on graduates that you have collected in other ways (via web searches, information from the alumni office or from faculty, etc.). You may add information for graduates who did not complete the survey or make changes for those who did.

During the fall administration, we will ask alumni to confirm or revise information about their activities that was collected either through your spring survey or your other data-gathering efforts. We will also send an invitation to alumni who did not complete the survey in the spring to increase your response rate.

At the conclusion of your administration(s), we will give you the option of adding primary activity information for graduates who did not take the survey, but for whom you have collected information in other ways (via web searches, information from the alumni office or from faculty, etc.). You may also modify or update any of the information given by graduates who did complete the survey. Your updates will be included in our final comparison reports.

Administration Methods

  • Authentication method – You provide students/graduates with a general survey link, and they use a unique password, such as their student ID, school email address, or post-graduate email address, to log into the mobile-friendly survey. We suggest this method for commencement activities – for example, you could text or email the general survey link to students, or display the survey link on a slide.
  • Email method – A member of the HEDS staff sends your students/graduates an individualized email invitation with a unique link to the survey. If they do not complete the survey, we will send reminders via email. You may customize both the invitation and the reminders, and each message appears to come from your institution.
  • Paper method – You ask students/graduates to fill out a paper version of the survey. You will be responsible for printing, distributing, and collecting the paper surveys and submitting the data to us in a format that we specify. We recommend that you use this method as a back-up option for students at commencement events who do not have mobile devices.

For an additional fee, you can select both the email and authentication administration methods. We will not charge an additional fee if you use paper administration as a back-up method. To ensure consistency in the administration process and the integrity of the comparative data, we do not allow institutions to administer any HEDS survey through their own survey engines.

Reports and Data Files

HEDS institutions Institutions not in HEDS
SPSS and/or Microsoft Excel file with your participants’ responses and any updates you have made to that information. (We will add values/labels to SPSS files.)
Report(s) that compares your recent college graduates’ primary activities to those of recent college graduates at other participating institutions. The number of reports you receive depends on how you administer the survey.
SPSS and/or Microsoft Excel file(s) with participant-level data from participating HEDS institutions. Institutional identifiers will be included in the file, but participants’ identifiers will be removed. This data file will include information collected in the spring and/or fall using our survey and information submitted by institutions at the end of their administration(s).  


  HEDS institutions Institutions not in HEDS
Base cost – single administration in the spring or fall
  • One 3–6 week survey administration
  • One administration method: authentication, email, or paper
  • Up to 1,000 responses
  • One survey invitation and up to three reminders for email method
  • 10 supplemental questions
  • Report and data files as specified above
$500 $1,600
Base cost – combination administration (survey in the spring and again in the fall)
  • One 3–6 week survey administration in the spring
  • One 3–6 week survey administration in the fall
  • Up to 1,000 responses for each administration
  • One survey invitation and up to three reminders for each email administration
  • 10 supplemental questions per administration
  • Report and data files as specified above for each administration

($500 for 1st administration +
$500 for 2nd administration)

($1,600 for 1st administration +
$1,600 for 2nd administration)
Using both the authentication and email administration methods
+ $250
+ $250
11 to 20 supplemental questions + $250 + $250
Additional responses (after first 1,000 responses; count includes all administration methods, incomplete responses, and duplicate responses; invoiced after the survey closes) + $0.50 per extra response + $0.50 per extra response
Late registration fee (see explanation in registration section below) + $250 + $250

Other HEDS First Destination Survey Information

  • Survey liaison – You will need to identify one individual from your institution to serve as the survey liaison to handle survey logistics, communicate with the HEDS staff, etc.
  • IRB approval – The HEDS First Destination Survey has been approved by the Wabash College Institutional Review Board (IRB) as a voluntary survey. We encourage your institution’s survey liaison to contact the IRB at your institution to determine whether their approval is needed prior to administering the survey.
  • Mandatory participation – Institutions should not make the survey mandatory or use survey incentives that may affect voluntary participation without consulting their institution’s IRB. In addition, the introduction to the HEDS First Destination Survey, which informs participants that the survey is voluntary, cannot be altered.
  • Embedding institution names in the survey – We will configure the survey so that your institution’s name appears prominently on each page.
  • Supplemental questions – You can add up to 20 supplemental questions, the first 10 of which are free, related to the HEDS First Destination Survey’s subject matter at the end of the survey. Each subquestion on a multipart or matrix question counts as one supplemental question. We ask that you submit finalized questions during registration. Your data file will include participants’ responses to these questions, but the HEDS reports will not.
  • Subsamples – You may request unique invitations, reminders, supplemental questions, etc., for different subsamples (e.g., for graduates in different programs). However, due to the additional labor such requests require, we will treat the surveys for each subsample as separate surveys and the full survey price will apply to each one.
  • Paper administration – To preserve the integrity of the questions, the HEDS First Destination Survey may not be altered, and the paper survey may only be used for one administration.
  • Qualtrics – HEDS administers its surveys via the commercial survey engine Qualtrics. Survey liaisons can use Qualtrics to monitor responses during the administration, and they can also view and download reports of participants’ responses during and after the administration period, until August 15, 2019.

Registering for the First Destination Survey

You can register for the 2017 HEDS First Destination Survey via the online registration form. At the time of registration, you may choose to pay with a credit card or receive an invoice and pay with a check. We send out invoices at the end of the month in which you register.

You must register at least three weeks prior to the date on which you plan to begin administering the survey. We will make decisions about accepting late registrations on a case-by-case basis. If we can accommodate a late registration, we will charge an additional $250 late fee.

HEDS First Destination Survey Administration Contact

Please contact Michelle Spencer (also at 765-361-6492) if you have any questions.

Download copies of the two versions of the survey, one for graduating seniors and one for recent college graduates.