biggest regrets of college students

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One reason: They focus too much on class and not enough on what else colleges offer.

How do you find a rewarding job that gives you a sense of accomplishment and well-rounded life? You could start by seeking career advice and job searching while in college. Here’s the problem: Most college seniors aren’t doing that.

Textbook company McGraw Hill surveyed over 5,000 college students and found that nearly 45 percent of college seniors feel “very prepared” for their careers. Yet only 7 percent want to make “as much money as possible.”

Most college students acknowledge that not feeling prepared is their fault — not the fault of schools they studied at. A majority said they would’ve felt more prepared for a career if they had more internships and professional experience.

College students are often provided resume support, job fairs and career advisers to help them in choosing a career path. But a majority admit to never using any of these resources, and those who do only rarely. Also, many college students don’t look for work while in school. Over 40 percent admit to not job searching, and among those who do, only report job hunting five hours per week.

The truth is jobs are seeking new applicants with basic work experience, which can’t be taught in a classroom. Many report feeling they have gained a lot of skills from their college experience, but are lacking real-world skills.

Over two-thirds of students report they are learning critical thinking, communications, time management, teamwork and multitasking skills. This isn’t the case when it comes to networking and personal finance skills.

Sometimes students overestimate themselves, too. Previous research has shown students feel prepared in skills like communication and teamwork, but hiring employers disagree.

Students prioritize jobs in their field over jobs with the greatest financial pay off. Three quarters have already picked the careers they consider rewarding and will give them a well-rounded life over well-paying, socially responsible jobs.

Should college seniors try to make as much money as possible?

Picking a career that makes you happy and gives you a purpose is a noble choice. Unfortunately, college seniors may be somewhat naive about their college costs and plans to pay down their student debt.

Over half of students plan to pay their debt off over 10 years after graduating, and 25 percent anticipate to not have any student loan debt. While some may graduate without any debt thanks to scholarships or working part-time, many will have unexpected debt. And, they may not fully understand how long it will take to pay off.

The standard repayment plan for federal student loans estimates about 10 years to pay off the debt. But previous research has suggested that the average borrower takes 21 years to pay down their loans for a bachelor’s degree.

Currently, student loan debt in America is the second highest consumer debt we are faced with, right behind mortgage debt, and in front of auto loans and credit card debts. The country as a whole is faced with $1.3 trillion worth of student loan debt alone. College tuition and fees add up to about $10,000 a year at a public in-state college, not to mention private colleges or graduate schools.

Over three quarters of students feel optimistic about their career goals and future lives overall. Once they actually get out there in the real world and start working — and paying their loans — they may say different.

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Meet the Author

Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Associate editor

Pye is the associate editor of

Career and Business

college savings, employment, get hired, income, save money, student loans

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