A recent survey by McGraw Hill Education and Hanover Research raises some important questions about the role of higher education in society.
These are questions higher ed communicators and marketers should pay attention to. (As should the executive-level leaders in higher education.)
The survey focused on workforce readiness, which is a subject of much debate in and of itself the higher ed sphere. (Should colleges and universities focus primarily on preparing students for jobs? Or is the role of a college education broader than that?)
But setting aside that debate for a moment, the results of this survey reveal a perception that colleges and universities aren’t meeting the job-focused expectations of today’s students.
- Only 35 percent of the students surveyed said they thought their college or university was preparing them for a job after graduation. That means nearly two out of three respondents felt their college or university was not preparing them for a job. And only one in five felt they were “very prepared” to enter the workforce.
- More than half of the students surveyed (51 percent) did not learn how to write a resume in college, and 56 percent said they did not learn how to conduct themselves in a job interview while in college.
- Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) want more coursework focused on developing career skills, while 67 percent want more internships or work experience while in college.
It bears repeating that the survey’s focus was on workforce readiness, so the question of whether higher education is meeting students’ expectations in other aspects of their development, such as civic involvement, ethics, interpersonal communications or the like, cannot be factored in to this discussion. But those are important questions, and perhaps a different kind of survey would provide the answers.
In the meantime, we should not dismiss the results of this survey or ones like it. Because even if the purpose of a college education is broader than workforce readiness, preparing our students for the world of work should be one important outcome of the work we do.