Gallup: The 'big six' experiences that turn successful students into successful employees

Just 3% of graduates said they had all six

New report findings indicate that six college experiences are linked to graduates becoming more engaged employees, according to Gallup.  


The Gallup-Purdue index, a research effort among Gallup, Purdue University, and the Lumina Foundation, focuses on studying the connection between undergraduate experience and real-world success.

For the report, researchers examined results of a web survey completed by a nationally representative random sample of 29,560 respondents who had internet access, were at least 18, and hold bachelor's degrees. They measured how engaged respondents were in their work, as well as their community, physical, financial, and social well-being.

The 'big six'

Researchers found that six elements of an undergraduate experience had a significant effect on a students' post-graduation success:

1. A professor who made them excited to learn;

2. A professor who cared about them as individuals;

3. A mentor who pushed students to reach their goals;

4. Working on a long-term project;

5. Completing a job or internship related to classroom lessons;

6. Being engaged in extracurricular activities and groups.

What it means in the office

Graduates who said they experienced all six elements were approximately three times as likely to be engaged at work, compared with their peers who say they missed out on each one.

"Though we don't know whether the big six college experiences cause graduates to be engaged, there is nonetheless a strong relationship between these experiences in college and workplace engagement after college," Gallup's Brandon Busteed and Sean Seymour write.

Yet just 3% of respondents said they had all six experiences—and one quarter reported having none at all.

"It seems that higher education institutions and students aren't optimizing the college experience," the researchers write.

It is possible that having experiential learning opportunities, mentor relationships, and internships enable students to get a better understanding of what they want to do professionally, Busteed and Seymour conclude (Busteed/Seymour, Gallup, 9/23).

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