Report: Recent grads less likely to believe college was worth it

Those who had experiential learning more likely to be satisfied

Around half of alumni strongly agree that attending college was worth the cost, according to the 2015 Gallup-Purdue Index (GPI) report released Tuesday by Gallup, Purdue University, and the Lumina Foundation.

To create the report, researchers asked more than 30,000 college graduates about their college experiences, student loan burdens, and perception of the value of their education. This was the second annual GPI.

Recent graduates who entered the job market between 2006 and 2015 were much less likely to say that college was worth the cost—only 38% of them strongly agreed. Many of these recent graduates took on high levels of student debt, and in turn report putting off getting married, buying a house or car, having kids, or starting their own businesses.

"This year's results serve as another reminder that student loan debt can be a significant obstacle to a student's future success—and in some cases, a long-term handicap," says Purdue President Mitch Daniels.

What pays off for alumni

One factor correlated strongly with satisfied alumni: experiential learning opportunities. Graduates who participated in an internship, were very active in extracurricular activities, or held a leadership position were around 1.5 times more likely to strongly agree that their education was worth the cost. 

Graduates who felt professors "cared about me as a person," "made me excited about learning" or who served as mentors were nearly twice as likely to agree, as well (Farkas, Northeast Ohio Media Group, 9/29; Belkin, Wall Street Journal, 9/29; Blumenstyk, Chronicle of Higher Education, 9/29).

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