Study finds a Third of US College Students would Rather Have Started a Business

Yes, you’ve spent years studying hard while working your way through college, scrimping and scraping by in the hopes of graduating with a degree that’ll propel you big-time onto the proverbial career ladder. Was all of that huge effort worth it? Are you now poised ready to reap the career rewards?

Don’t want to burst your bubble, but it just may have been a bit of a waste of time, at least according to a major new study. For the study, entitled “The Multi-Generational Job Search”, produced by Boston-based consulting firm Millennial Branding and career network, found almost two-thirds of US employers would now consider hiring a candidate without a college degree. While no one seriously disputes university degrees can help in the search for jobs, apparently they’re way down the pecking order when it comes to what company bosses look for nowadays. Also a job can take you around the world.

The overseas experience

A region such as the Middle East, with its huge oil and gas wealth, has over the years proved a fertile hunting ground for degree-qualified professionals looking to add interesting and unusual dimensions to their CVs. In much the same way, it’s also been good for Western students looking to stand out from the crowd. Indeed, there are many good universities all across the Middle East, such as the popular American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. However, even having a more global perspective still doesn’t cut it with employers, the study has found.

Determining factor

Some 43% of respondents taking part in the national study, which involved 2,978 job seekers and HR professionals, cited “cultural fit” as the single most important determining factor when making a new hire. And while academic success was helpful, the majority of hiring managers (64%) said they would still consider a candidate who hadn’t even attended college.

According to the survey, the top three attributes that companies are currently looking for are: a positive attitude (84%), communication skills (83%) and an ability to work as a team (74%). However, despite this need, liberal arts majors, who are historically more focused on communications, were shown to be the least likely to land a job, with only 2% of companies actively recruiting those graduates – versus 27% for engineering and computer information systems and 18% for business.

Degree takes a back seat

Based on the data, acquiring a college degree is important, but may take a back seat to an applicant’s personality. In fact, 73% of hiring managers felt that colleges are only “somewhat preparing” students for the working world. The biggest challenges facing hiring managers seem to be how the job seeker presents themselves – 36% of HR pros reported that candidates are “unprepared” and 33% said they have a “bad attitude” when interviewing.

Is college worth it?

Although 71% of all generations of students in the study pay their way through college, 31% of job seekers said that a degree isn’t worth the cost. Due to the high price of education:

41% said it’s going to take four or more years to pay back student loans

53% said that colleges should be accountable for getting students jobs

33% of all generations would have rather started a business than attended college in the first place

59% said that college doesn’t prepare students for the real world

More findings from the study can be found here.

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.