Most people by now have acknowledged the crisis in our higher education system in the United States. The rising cost of education, declining graduation rates relative to other industrialized nations, a massive amount of student debt, and perhaps worst of all: the perception that a college education isn’t really worth what it used to be.
We regularly hear from stakeholders such as public officials, employers, and educators about what can and should be done to address these issues, but rarely are we exposed to a consolidated view from the students themselves. In 2013 McKinsey & Company published a report called Voice of the Graduate which does just that. The report highlights the concerns that many recent graduates share regarding their experience after graduation.
The key findings of the report can be summarized into eight different areas. Although the report does not provide specific causes or prescriptive solutions to any of the issues, it does force us, as career services industry professionals to ask some poignant questions about how we go about doing our jobs. The key findings are as follows.
- Graduates are over qualified for the first jobs
Nearly half of recent graduates surveyed said that they found themselves in jobs that do not require a college degree.
- Graduates are underprepared for the professional world
Roughly one third of students felt their college experience did not prepare them well for employment. This finding was echoed in another McKinsey study in which 39% of employers reported that inadequate training was an issue with new hires.
- Graduates have regrets about the school or major they chose
More than half of all graduates reported that given the opportunity to do it again they would choose either a different major, or different school for their college experience. McKinsey equates this to a basic measure of customer satisfaction of whether a customer would use the product again or not. More than 50% of graduates say no.
- Graduates did not consider graduation rates, job placement rates, or starting salary when choosing a school to attend
While almost all students looked at the courses offered when choosing a university, 37% to 48% did not look at graduations rates, job placement rates or starting salaries of graduates. The report suggests that this may be because enough schools do not make these critical data as readily available.
- Graduates are not able to find jobs in their desired fields
Almost half of all graduates could not get a job in their desired field. The problem is much worse for certain majors than for others, but it still demonstrates overall disappointment in educations failure to act as a “springboard” into ones field of choice.
- More graduates are working in retail than originally intended
Although the retail and restaurant industries were among the least desired fields of work for students attending or entering school, they ended up employing four to five times the number of graduates who originally said they wanted to work there.
- Liberal Arts graduates are far worse off in all measures
“Graduates who majored in liberal arts and performing arts at four-year colleges fare the worst across every measure: they tend to be lower paid, deeper in debt, less happily employed, and slightly more likely to wish they’d done things differently.”
- Graduates did not leverage their career services offices or alumni networks to find jobs
Most graduates felt that it was their own personal network and not their college’s career center of alumni network that helped them find a job. “Less than 40% of graduates used career services, and less than 30% tapper into alumni networks to find a job”.
Most of the findings in the report are more of a confirmation of what many career services professionals already know, than anything earth-shattering and new. However, it is safe to say that even a year after the report was published, most of the stakeholders agree that there is still a lot more work that needs to be done to address these issues.
Here at uConnect we have a firm belief that university career services has a major role to play in addressing almost all of these issues. Indeed both before and since this report was published several progressive career services offices began implementing changes to address many of these issues. In addition a number of career services industry professionals have started speaking out about the changes that need to be made in career services offices across the country. One of the most notable examples of this is the article published recently on LinkedIn by Farouk Dey of Stanford University and Christine Cruzvergara of George Mason about future trends in college career services.
To us here at you uConnect this report and what has come since are both vindication and indications that the tides of change are upon us.
You can download the full report at the McKinsey on Society site.
Credit: McKinsey&Company, McKinsey on Society; Voice of the Graduate. http://mckinseyonsociety.com/voice-of-the-graduate/