Saddening: Women say colleges not preparing them for a career

New report sheds light on 2016’s college seniors’ feelings about career-readiness —and they’re not great.

Only four in 10 (40 percent) college seniors, and a similar number of college students overall, feel their college experience has been helpful in preparing for a career—and percentage that drops to 19 percent for women when asked if they feel very  prepared for their career overall .

These are just some of the all-too-real findings part of McGraw-Hill Education’s recently released third annual Workforce Readiness Survey, conducted by Hanover Research among 1,360 U.S. college students during March and April 2016, using an online survey.

Looking to national conversations, the growth of career readiness programs and past reports over the last two years, the perceived importance of preparing for careers while in college appears to be on the rise, yet certain college students – including humanities majors and women – continue to report lower career confidence than their peers, found the report.

“Despite the increasing cost of attending college, it continues to be a great investment for young people to make in their futures if they graduate,” said Peter Cohen, McGraw-Hill Education’s group president of U.S. education. “It should be our collective goal to maximize the experience–whether in community colleges, four-year colleges or graduate programs–so students can feel confident they’ll have a successful career after finishing their higher education journey. 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.”

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Some of the differences in perceived career preparedness among specific groups include:

  • Men are more likely than women (24 percent compared to 19 percent) to report that they feel “very prepared” for their careers, even though women are more likely to report that they are “satisfied” with their college experience (82 percent compared to 74 percent).
  • Arts and Humanities majors are more than three times as likely as other students to report that they feel “not at all prepared” for their careers (18 percent of Arts and Humanities majors, compared to less than 6 percent of all other students).
  • Students in STEM majors are the most likely to report that they are optimistic about their career prospects (73 percent), while students in Arts & Humanities and in Social Science majors are the least likely (61 percent of each).
  • Students in community colleges are as likely to feel prepared for careers and be satisfied with their collegiate experience as students at four-year colleges.

(Next page: More career-readiness findings from the report)

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