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Survey reveals unrealistic expectations of recent college graduates


Monday, May 06, 2013

Young people today have heard many times throughout their lives that going to college is an investment in their future. While this is certainly true, a new study reveals that the college graduates of 2013 may not be viewing their employment prospects in a realistic way. According to the 2013 College Graduate Employment Survey, conducted by global financial consulting firm Accenture, many students overestimate how they will fare once they leave college.

Optimism versus realism
Researchers at Accenture polled a total of 2,015 college students and recent graduates. Of these respondents, 1,010 expected to graduate this year, and 1,005 were members of the graduating classes of 2012 and 2011. The majority of students polled attended a traditional four-year university, with 292 respondents attending either a community college or vocational school.

Key findings of the report indicate that more than three-quarters of students polled said they thought their employer would provide them with formal professional training once they were on the job. However, less than half of graduates from the classes of 2012 and 2011 said they had received on-the-job training from their first employer.

Similarly, only 15 percent of students graduating this year said they expected to earn $25,000 or less at their first job, despite 32 percent of the class of 2012 and 2011 earning this salary. Almost two-thirds of survey respondents believe they will work on a full-time basis after graduation, even though little more than half of recent graduates said they were working full-time.

Achieving a balance
The researchers found that many employers feel today's graduates are not ready for the realities of the workplace. Conversely, some graduates feel overqualified for many of the positions that are available to them.

"A solution is sorely needed to bridge the disconnect between employers that are concerned about college graduates being unprepared for available jobs and the graduates who feel overqualified for them," David Smith, senior managing director of Accenture's talent and organization practice, told The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Authors of the study claim that greater collaboration between employers and universities is needed to ensure that not only are graduates realistic about their employment prospects, but that companies can more effectively prepare graduates for the pressures of the modern workforce. Although ambition is certainly important for students preparing for college, so too is the need to remain grounded in their expectations of what working life will entail.

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