Why majority of college graduates feel they are unprepared for working life
Megan McNulty, Deseret News
Graduating from college does not mean a job with flexibility, high pay and benefits. And a recent survey found most college graduates know that.
Only 4 in 10 college seniors in the 2016 graduating class said their college experience helped them prepare for their future career, according to a survey by McGraw-Hill and Hanover Research.
According to the survey, over the past two years, college students’ perception of the importance of college has increased although certain students, specifically arts and humanities majors and women, have lower career confidence.
“Despite the increasing cost of attending college, it continues to be a great investment for young people to make in their futures if they graduate,” Peter Cohen, McGraw-Hill Education’s group president of U.S. education, said in the survey report. “While no two students’ career aspirations are the same, every college graduate deserves to enter the workforce with the confidence that their degree was worth the investment.”
The survey showed college students are more likely to want a job they love versus one that pays well. Arts and humanities majors are 10 times more likely to value doing what they love while science, technology, engineering and math majors are more optimistic about career prospects. Men are more likely than women to feel prepared for their careers, while women are more satisfied with their college experience.
Employers say schools need to do more to prepare graduates for today’s job market.
A study by the Council for Aid to Education analyzed the results of the Collegiate Learning Assessment Plus test among 32,000 students at 169 colleges. They found that 40 percent of college seniors failed to graduate college with complex reasoning skills essential to the modern-day workplace.
“People know how to take a course, but they need to learn how to learn,” John Leutner, head of global learning at Xerox, told The Washington Post. While in college, he said, professors set priorities for college students, not allowing them to be fully independent.
The article further explained that too many students are worried about picking a major in a practical field while most employers need broadly educated individuals who have developed practical skills.
The McGraw-Hill and Hanover Research survey notes that when college students are asked to identify skills valuable to employers, most mention interpersonal communication skills more often than their GPAs, degrees and internship experiences, if any.
According to Quartz, colleges should partner with companies that offer students opportunities to obtain professional experience.
An internship is one opportunity to learn more about a field or industry, apply knowledge, gain valuable work experience and decide your career path, U.S. News notes. According to the survey, 67 percent of participants reported wanting more internships and professional experience. Additionally, students were reported to want more time to focus on career preparation and alumni networking opportunities.
According to The Washington Post, for a college graduate, the best experience relevant to the job market is a combination of academic and practical experience.