Growing Number of College Grads Regret Higher Education Choices

Regrets. According to Business Insider, many recent college grads have had a few. And specifically, when considering their chosen school or major.

The results of a recent survey by McKinsey and Chegg – an ed-tech company also running a textbook rental business – which shows that nearly half of those polled wished that they had made different choices upon graduating high school – is likely to add to an increasingly loud debate about whether higher education is ultimately a worthwhile investment.

Among its other troubling findings, the report says that nearly half of college graduates are currently working jobs that don't require a college degree. Roughly 30% felt that college didn't adequately prepare them for the job market.

The most alarming conclusion appears to be that a full 41% of graduates from America's top 100 ranked colleges and universities couldn't get employment in their field after they graduated. When looking at all colleges and universities around the country, the percentage goes up to nearly half.

Students don't ask the questions they need to, like how often students graduate in four years, what percentage of students are employed within six months of graduating, and what percentage of students get jobs in their major. They need to be encouraged to do so, and schools need to have those answers.

And schools are evaluated by things like selectivity, not how they help students prepare for the workplace or support their job search.

Students in liberal arts were particularly prone to regrets. They were more likely than their STEM-graduate peers to be under- or unemployed and were deeper in debt, were paid less and were overall less happy with the higher education choices they made.

The findings illuminate the fact that schools are not doing a very good job of filling their students' needs. Instead of expanding programs that lead to higher paid jobs and more steady employment, it appears that many schools are cutting back due to budget cuts.

As a result, students are not only feeling more regrets about where they enrolled and the major they chose, but are also graduating with higher debt loads and fewer options.

Things are moving in a troubling direction. Instead of expanding curriculums to include the skills students really need now, many institutions, particularly public ones, are cutting back. That means students have to spend longer to graduate and go deeper in debt, without getting an education that's any better suited to the world we live in. The key to solving it, Rosensweig says, is using technology to break down some of the barriers and habits that have held higher education back and kept it from adapting, to focus more on specific skills, and creating more entrepreneurial students.


05 8, 2013
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