October 07, 2013
Does college effectively prepare students for working world?

Twenty-two percent of adult workers in a recent survey said that a college education does not effectively prepare students for employment in the workforce. Meanwhile, nearly the same percentage—25 percent—reported that college does effectively prepare students for the working world. Only 10 percent said college prepares students very effectively.

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The April 2013 survey of more than 1,600 employed adults in the United States was conducted for University of Phoenix by Harris Interactive. It found that 35 percent of working adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education believe that all or most of what they learned in college is applicable to their current jobs.

Of survey respondents, 7 percent said that everything they learned in college applies to their jobs, while 51 percent indicated that some of the knowledge gained in college applies, and 13 percent said none of what they learned applies. The news is more encouraging among survey participants who have earned graduate degrees, with 47 percent reporting that all or most of what they learned while pursuing their degree(s) is applicable to their work.

“This survey suggests the need for higher education to adapt to the needs of the market and prepare students for specific jobs and careers,” said Dr. Sam Sanders, college chair for University of Phoenix School of Business and former human resource executive. “There is significant progress being made in America to tie curriculum to careers earlier in a student’s education, but there is still a lot of work to be done to prepare college graduates for specific careers and grow a more competitive workforce.”

Almost three-quarters (74 percent) of survey respondents have regrets when it comes to their education. Topping the list—at 48 percent—is not pursuing more education. In fact, 58 percent of participants who did not earn a bachelor’s degree regret not furthering their education, while 32 percent of those with bachelor’s degrees wish they had pursued more education.

In addition, 21 percent regret not learning as much because they didn’t apply themselves; 19 percent wish they had focused more on academics; 15 percent believe they selected the wrong major; 11 percent regret not having been an intern or getting relevant job experience during school; and 6 percent regret not applying the information they learned to real-life scenarios.

Tip: Supervisors and managers should collaborate with trainers to identify which workplace skills need to be further developed in college graduates, as well as other new hires.

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