College used to be a practical guarantee of getting a decent, well-paying job. That’s not the case anymore, as more students end up unemployed or working jobs they feel overqualified for. But students still haven’t updated their expectations or their assessment of what college does for them.
In a new study from academic services company Chegg, researchers asked college students how prepared they felt to perform certain workplace tasks. They also asked hiring managers how they felt recent graduates measured up.
The gap between the two assessments was massive. College students overrated themselves on every single skill, from writing ability to organisation and time management. By far the biggest gap, at 27%, was in the perceived ability of recent grads to prioritise work:
What’s wrong with this picture? Students are taking on thousands of dollars of debt and giving up four years of their lives in order to, in large part, prepare themselves for the workforce. Yet the workforce doesn’t think all that much of what they’re getting.
Obviously, there’s some benefit to college, and the numbers show that hiring managers do prefer graduates. But outside of general critical thinking ability and degrees in science, technology, engineering, and maths (hiring managers think these applicants are better prepared), there’s a growing skills gap that needs to be addressed.
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