According to the Gallup-Purdue Index Report, when it comes to workplace engagement:

  • 39 percent of college grads are engaged at work; 49 percent are not engaged; and 12 percent are actively disengaged.
  • Though there is no distinction in success between grads from public versus private institutions, or whether or not they attended an institution on U.S. News & World Report‘s Top 100 list, there is “a substantial difference between graduates of for-profit institutions and the rest.”
  • If an employed grad had a professor who cared about them, made them excited about learning, and cared about their dreams/goals, the grads’ odds of being engaged at work more than doubled. Yet, only 14 percent of grads said they had these three supports.
  • Only 32 percent of grads “strongly agreed” they worked on a long-term project.
  • 29 percent (or fewer than 3 in 10) strongly agreed they had an internship they were actively involved in.
  • 20 percent of grads said they were actively involved in extracurricular activities.

The Report also noted that, based on findings from a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Survey Index, there are five elements to gauge a person’s well-being: purpose, social, financial, community, and physical.

The Report reveals these findings about graduates’ well-being:

  • 54 percent are “thriving” in purpose; 49 percent in social; 47 percent in community; 42 percent in financial; and 35 percent in physical.
  • Only 11 percent of graduates are thriving in all five elements. More than 1 in 6 are not thriving in any element.
  • If college grads are engaged at work, they’ll be 5 times more likely to thrive in all 5 elements.
  • The odds of thriving in all areas of well-being more than double for grads when they feel their college prepared them.
  • Just like with work engagement, there is no distinction in level of well-being between public versus private universities, or whether or not the institution was ranked in U.S. News & World Report. However, there is a “big difference on well-being for graduates of for-profit colleges.”
  • The more loans taken on by students, the worse off their well-being later in life: 14 percent of grads who did not take out loans are thriving in their well-being, whereas only 4 percent of grads with $20K-$40K in loans (the current average loan debt, notes the Report) are thriving.

Concluding the Report, Gallup and Purdue note that the findings not only “shed light on how the effects of certain powerful college experiences can be felt years and even decades after graduation,” but also that all too often, higher education does not give a transformative experience that leads to great jobs and great lives.

“Higher education has the power to change that,” the Report emphasizes. “A national dialogue on improving the college experience should focus on ways to provide students with more emotional support, and with more opportunities for deep learning experiences and real-life applications of classroom learning.”

For more information on the Report’s findings, as well as data around gender, ethnicity, field studied, and alumni attachment, read the full report, “Great Jobs, Great Lives: The 2014 Gallup-Purdue Index Report,” here.