Just 40% of college seniors feel their college experiences helped prepare them for the work world, according to the annual McGraw-Hill Education Workforce Readiness Survey.
About 1,360 college students responded to the online survey in March and April. Results showed that since 2014, there's been a steady uptick in the importance students place on career readiness.
Compared with 66% in 2014, this year 71% of college students said it is "extremely important" to plan for a rewarding career while still in school. And about 61% said they chose a major that will help them land a job right after graduation, compared with 48% who said the same in 2014.
"While no two students' career aspirations are the same, every college graduate deserves to enter the workforce with the confidence that their degree was worth the investment," says Peter Cohen, McGraw Hill's president of U.S. education.
Of all the college students surveyed, just 21% reported feeling "very prepared" for a professional career—though that varied by gender. Around 19% of women agreed with the statement, while 24% of men did.
What can the 'confidence gap' tell us about student success?
Sense of preparedness also varied by major: STEM students were the most likely to be optimistic about their careers. Meanwhile, arts and humanities majors are three times as likely as all other students to report feeling "not at all prepared" for jobs.
Supports students want
A majority of students said they never learned to network or job search, or how to act during an interview. They also cited several areas where their schools could improve support:
- More access to professional experience and internships;
- More time to work on career prep;
- More access to career prep tools; and
- More networking opportunities with alumni.
That being said, 79% of students reported being more satisfied with their college experiences, compared with 65% who were in 2014 (McGraw-Hill Education release, 6/1; McGraw-Hill Education report, 6/1).
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