Education Leaders: Time To Rethink What A College Degree Promises

Career College Central summary:

  • Although a large majority of business leaders prioritize a candidate's knowledge and skills over a college pedigree, many large companies' hiring practices suggest the opposite. Finding a solution to the frustration of both business leaders and college graduates may require colleges and universities to rethink what a degree guarantees – and to be more transparent about those promises – a panel of higher education experts said this week.
  • A poll conducted by Gallup and Lumina Foundation, released Tuesday, found 84 percent of business leaders said the amount of knowledge of potential hires is very important, while 28 percent said a candidate's college major is important and just 9 percent said where the candidate received his or her degree is very important.
  • Still, most business leaders are unsatisfied with the pool of applicants, the survey found. While nearly all – 96 percent – of chief academic officers surveyed in a previous poll said they are confident that they've prepared graduates to be successful in the workplace, just 11 percent of business leaders surveyed in the new Gallup/Lumina poll agreed with that statement.
  • The American public as a whole also reported a gap between the importance of a college education and how well colleges and universities are doing in terms of serving students. Seventy-four percent said a college education is important to attaining a better quality of life, and 90 percent said it's important to increase the number of Americans with a postsecondary education. But 89 percent still said colleges need to change in order to better serve students, and about half (49 percent) said they see evidence of that change happening.
  • The disconnect may come from the fact that colleges and universities are not transparent enough about what exactly they're preparing students for, while the public has not articulated clearly what higher education could do differently, said Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark, at Tuesday's event for the release of the survey.

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