Only 16 Percent Of College Grads Say Career Services Was Helpful

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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The vast majority of private and public universities have a career services department, but only 16 percent of students say they found them very helpful.

The National Center for Education Statistics predicts that 20.5 million Americans will attend colleges and universities in 2016, an increase of 5.2 million since fall 2000. Enrollment in higher education grew from 13 million in 1987 to over 21 million in 2010, the Department of the Treasury reports.

The cost of tuition for colleges and universities has skyrocketed since the 1980s, and so has federal spending on higher education. The U.S. federal government spent $76 billion on higher education alone in 2013, and federal spending on higher education has grown substantially since the onset of the recession.

Despite a more expensive price tag, students and parents hope a college degree will improve job prospects.

Some 52 percent of college students report visiting a career services department during their collegiate years, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday morning. Students are equally likely–16 percent–to say their experience was either “very helpful,” or “not at all helpful.” Only a slight majority, 63 percent, of students say their experience with career services was “somewhat helpful,” or “helpful.”

Recent college graduates report visiting career services more often than previous generations. Sixty-one percent of those who received their college degrees before 2009 report visiting career services at least once during school, opposed to 35 percent in the 1960s and 40 percent in the 1970s.

These findings resonate with recent studies on how much college prepares students for the workforce. For instance, only 25 percent of employees say traditional universities do “an adequate job of preparing graduates for the workplace,” according to a 2015 study by McKinsey & Company.

The same is true for those in hiring and management positions. Only 8 percent of managers say entry-level employees are immediately ready to contribute to their organization, according to a 2015 study by Bridge by Instructure. Almost 75 percent of hiring managers complain that millennials, even those with college degrees, aren’t prepared for the job market, the Fiscal Times reports.

Most hiring managers–85 percent–make hiring decisions based on what they call soft skills, like attitude and hard work, and hope to train them. Only a fraction of these managers, however, feel their training is effective at improving vital skills.

“There is more demand for skill and education, and young people have less skill and experience than the typical worker,” policy and research director of the Young Invincibles, Rory O’Sullivan, told reporters. “We don’t do a very good job of training them out of school to be prepped and ready to go.”

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