Parents Are Dissatisfied with Colleges’ Job Placement Efforts

Posted By Eliana Osborn on June 18, 2015 at 9:00 am
Parents Are Dissatisfied with Colleges’ Job Placement Efforts

It isn’t just students frustrated with higher education these days.  New findings from the Robert Morris University Polling Center indicate less than half of the parents who responded think colleges are doing enough to help graduates find jobs.  This reflects growing worries about the cost of college and the high levels of student loan debt so many new graduates are saddled with.

Other poll findings include a 54% positive rating towards colleges generally.  While that number may be higher than the president’s approval rating at present, it is remarkably low for any business trying to recruit and grow.

How specific colleges and universities are perceived seems to be changing, according to the RMU poll.  Nearly 75% of parents said they cared more about job placement than name prestige.  The overall value of higher education is slipping in the minds of the public – both bachelors and master’s degrees are deemed significantly less valuable than in a 2005 study.

Two views on what college should be

There is tension in America today between two differing views of college.  One camp feels that a degree should prepare students for specific jobs.  The other side thinks of post-secondary schooling as training for the mind—more of a general liberal arts focus.  And as the economy slowly improves, jobs for young adults are still lagging behind, drawing more attention to the fate of those just out of college.

The PMU poll may open the eyes of administrators to how they are viewed outside of academia.  Jerry Lindsley, president of the Center for Research and Public Policy, who worked on the poll creation and implementation, sees perception of value as a huge problem for higher education institutions. Lindsley told Inside Higher Ed, “I would get a whole lot more in touch with local employers or statewide employers than I am now, just to really see what needs are going to be requested.”

Trending toward more information and transparency

Going forward, the trend for colleges is for more information to be available to students up front.  Cost calculators are now available from the Department of Education as well as individual schools.  A proposal is in front of Congress now to require institutions to collect and publicize wages of graduates.  That data would be another important piece of the puzzle for students trying to determine the best course for their education.

Eliana Osborn
Eliana Osborn is an associate English professor at Arizona Western College, with degrees from Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. She’s published widely in forums such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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