Brief • 2 min Read
In the midst of college commencement season, the Harris Poll surveyed 505 graduating students from around the United States representing associate, undergraduate, and graduate degree programs about their educational experience and their outlook regarding the broader opportunities that their education has afforded them.
In general, graduating students are highly satisfied with their decisions to pursue their degrees and staunchly hopeful for their future. At public and private schools alike, nine of 10 people receiving a bachelor’s degree are satisfied with their field of study, and eight in 10 are happy with the school they chose. Nine of 10 four-year grads, at public and private schools alike, also say their education will enable them to achieve the lifestyle they want. That same percentage also thinks a college degree is the best way for people to secure their future.
Four in 10 graduating bachelor’s students say they chose their college or university because it offered a scholarship or grant. The only factor that mattered more was the school’s degree program, with half (48%) saying that swayed their decision. Almost nine in 10 also say they chose their major because it seemed it would lead to a well-compensated job. Graduates of bachelor’s programs are not united in their post-degree plans, however. Just over half (56%) of graduates say their immediate plan is to get paid work, with a third (31%) saying they’re going to go on to another degree and the remaining 11% looking to take time off or to do unpaid work like an internship.
Perhaps surprisingly, 86% of all graduating students believe that they are graduating with an acceptable amount of debt, with 92% students of private schools and 83% of public schools feeling that way. Even more (94%) believe that post-graduation employment opportunities available to them made attending college worthwhile. Of those graduating students of associate, bachelor’s, and graduate programs who have pursued a post-graduation job in their field of study, four in five (79%) have secured employment, with nearly as many (81%) saying their experience in the job search was easy or neutral. Of the one in five (19%) who said it was difficult, 17% report the experience was somewhat difficult and only 2% report it as being very difficult.
Students’ optimistic streak extends to comparing their post-graduation outlook to those who graduated college five years ago: only 13% of all graduating students feel like their post-graduation outlook is worse than those from the national Class of 2018 (46% better, 38% about the same). They feel good about those coming after them too: 87% of graduating students feel that those who graduate five years from now will have better or about the same outlook than they have themselves (9% worse).
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