Most College Students Don’t Feel Prepared for Career, Life

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

A newly-released report from McGraw-Hill Education on career readiness among college graduates suggests that only four of every ten college seniors feel that their time spent in college has adequately prepared them for life with a career.

The third annual Workforce Readiness Survey found that just 40% of college seniors, and a similar percentage of other college students, feel their college experience has been helpful in preparing for a career.  Despite the rise of feelings over the last several years that attaining a college degree is important in career preparation, some college students, such as women and humanities majors, still note lower career confidence than their peers.

Report findings state that men were more likely than women, 24% in comparison to 19%, to say they were “very prepared” for their careers, while women were more likely than men, 82% compared to 74%, to say they were “satisfied” with their college experience.  Arts and Humanities majors were three times as likely over other students to feel “not at all prepared.”

Students participating in STEM programs were most likely to hold an optimistic view of career prospects at 73%, with students in Arts and Humanities and Social Science majors found to be least likely at 61%.

In addition, community college students typically felt just as prepared for careers and just as satisfied with their college experience as those students who attended four-year schools, despite the lower cost, lower retention, and weaker graduation rates.

“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,” said Peter Cohen, McGraw-Hill Education’s group president of U.S. education.

“It should be our collective goal to maximize the experience – whether in community colleges, four-year colleges or graduate programs – so students can feel confident they’ll have a successful career after finishing their higher education journey. 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.”

Survey results also found several areas in which participants felt schools could do more in order to help prepare them for careers.  Despite 79% of students reporting satisfaction with their overall college experience in 2016 compared to 65% in 2014, 67% of students said their schools could use more internships and professional experiences; 59% would like to see more time spent focusing on career preparation; 47% said better access was needed for career preparation tools; and 34% wanted additional alumni networking opportunities.

The survey also found that more students are preparing for life after college than there previously had been, with 71% of students considering career planning to be “extremely important” compared to 66% in 2014.  In addition, over 61% said they enrolled in a major that would be helpful in finding a job upon graduation compared to 48% in 2014.

Classroom technology was also viewed as important, with 85% of students saying that the use of technology in the classroom has helped them to become better job candidates, with 89% saying they use study technologies at least occasionally.