When it comes to post-college outcomes, paid internships are big factors in students securing gainful employment and higher income.

Think beyond degree completion to post-college outcomes

Paid internships are among the biggest factors in students securing gainful employment and higher income post-college

America’s universities must think beyond graduation rates and student success while in school, and provide more focus on supporting career success, Ruth Watkins, a national higher education leader, said while at Oregon State University in September.

Watkins, president of national education nonprofit Strada Impact and former president of the University of Utah, was the keynote speaker at OSU’s 2022 University Day event, an annual gathering of university faculty and staff to mark the start of the academic year.

More than 600 people attended the program either in person or through a livestream. New OSU President Jayathi Murthy, who began her service Sept. 9, welcomed Watkins to OSU.

Watkins said that while institutions of higher education often tout high first- and second-year retention rates and four- and six-year degree completion rates, few universities and colleges know how to track how successful their students are after graduation.

She referred to national surveys conducted by Strada that show only half of current college students believe their education will be worth the cost. She shared statistics from another study that followed college students after graduation and found that 10 years later, 3 in 10 were “underemployed,” such as working in jobs that did not require their degree.

In terms of income, the studies showed the benefits of a college degree are not experienced equally: Students of color, first-generation students and female students are 10-13 percent less likely to be in jobs earning more than $40,000 compared with white, non-first-generation and male students, respectively.

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