Campus, News

College graduates unprepared for workforce, poll suggests

College graduates leaving institutions such as Boston University and entering the job market may not be prepared in the eyes of employers, according to a Gallup Poll survey released Tuesday.

The survey found that only 14 percent of the American public and 11 percent of business leaders strongly agreed that college graduates have the necessary skillset to succeed in the workforce.

Several students said though they found their undergraduate education important, pursuing opportunities outside of the classroom is crucial to preparing for the working world.

“Just sitting in class and learning about different examples, it’s great, but it would be more educational to be able to go out and do something hands-on,” said Rachelle Ku, a sophomore in BU’s School of Management.

Ku said she expects to struggle in her first few experiences on the job, and that her undergraduate experiences likely have not prepared her fully for a job in her field.

“I don’t think I’d be completely satisfied with my performance at first, but I would get there as more experience comes around,” she said.

Rachel Pollard, a sophomore in Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said it was important to pair college classes with real world experience.

“I’ve had a lot of interaction with community service organizations, but I’ve kind of had to seek that out myself,” she said. “What really prepares you for those [job] experiences are being in the working world, going out there and shadowing or visiting businesses.”

The survey also reported that 9 percent of business leaders said a candidate’s alma mater was very important when making a hiring decision, while 54 percent of business leaders felt it was not important.

“If you do look at it statistically, all the top business leaders have come from Harvard, or Wharton, or really good colleges,” said Desmond Correa, a freshman double majoring in BU’s College of Arts and Sciences and SMG. “But to an extent, it all depends on how the individual performs. You can come out of Harvard, but if you have a 2.5 GPA, no one’s going to take you seriously.”

Correa also said he felt his undergraduate education would train him aptly for a job in the future.

“A lot of international students are sent abroad because, for us, an undergrad degree seems valuable,” he said. “I finally decided to go into the SMG field, and they allow you to look at all your options into the future. It does prepare you well.”

Zach Hall, a CAS freshman, said the reputation of the school students attend could play an important role in securing them a job down the line.

“I’ve heard from professors in the astronomy department that, having gone to BU astronomy, it looks good on your transcript,” he said. “It’s highly enough regarded that it will realistically help you get a job or go to grad school.”

Jarvis Rodriguez, a junior in SMG, said though undergraduate classes emphasize skills potential hires need, applicants should to gain hands-on practice to prepare for a career.

“You need real-world experience,” he said. “I don’t think that you go from here into a workplace knowing everything. Having an internship gives you a real sense of, once you graduate, what a real job is going to be like.”

The Gallup survey also found that 37 percent of Americans believe online providers offer a high-quality education.

Ku said though it may be advantageous for students to have a “brand-name” school on their résumés, employers often valued specific skill sets above a students’ alma mater.

“Huge companies like Google, they don’t even look at that,” Ku said. “They sometimes think people that don’t even have college educations are more creative and bright than kids that do go to college.”

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