Report: College seniors reveal triggers for career preparedness

New 2017 research captures more than 5,000 college students' hopes, worries, and opinions about their career preparedness for the future.

Preparing students for a career post-graduation has never been more important to colleges and universities than today, thanks to national discussions about the relevancy of higher education showing no signs of slowing down. But what do students feel about their career preparedness? And what do they believe can aid in their post-grad career success?

Drawing upon the responses of more than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate college students from throughout the country at both two- and four-year institutions, the survey—conducted by Hanover Research for McGraw Hill Education during March and April 2017, using an online survey—revealed the major finding that could be construed as both good or bad: fewer than half (44 percent) of college seniors feel “very prepared” for a career; though 83 percent feel at least “moderately prepared.”

These feelings of career preparedness are also dependent on a variety of factors, highlights the research, including soft skills learned, as well as career identification preparedness.

Major Findings on Student Career Preparedness

According to the report:

Interpersonal Vs. Technical Skills

The skills college seniors feel best prepare them for their post-grad careers tend to be interpersonal skills like communication abilities, and teamwork and critical thinking skills, rather than technical, presentation and networking skills.

Fulfillment is a Balance

Asked which factors would make them feel most fulfilled in their careers, students’ top three answers were: a good work/life balance, followed by attractive salary and benefits, and opportunities to learn and grow as a professional.

Overall Motivation

A plurality of students (42 percent) report that their highest priority in choosing a career is “providing a comfortable life” for themselves and their families, while fewer than 30 percent are motivated primarily by having “an impact on the world or on people’s lives.” Only 7 percent prioritized making “as much money as possible.”

Major is Still Important

83 percent of students surveyed believe they are in a major that will help them get a job.

Job Hunting

71 percent of students surveyed anticipate having a job within a year of graduation.

Career Timeline

72 percent of students surveyed plan to remain in their first job for 5 years or less; and 84 percent expect to work one job at a time after graduation.

(Next page: More nuanced student career findings based on gender; career motivations; more)