A recent poll put up by Gallup and Lumina Foundation was very revealing about different attitudes toward education and entry into the workforce. Perhaps most interestingly, the business leader responses seem to dispel widely held myths of university leaders and undergrads seeking jobs. Below are some of the highlights, but you can read the report in its entirety on the Lumina Foundation’s website.

Myth #1: Which school you went to matters more than what you know.

According to the report: “Eighty-four percent of business leaders say that the amount of knowledge a candidate has is very important in hiring decisions. By comparison, just nine percent of business leaders say where the candidate received their degree is very important in hiring decisions, and only 28 percent of employers say a candidate’s major is very important.”

Myth #2: Students are prepared for the workforce.

“In a recent survey done by Gallup for Inside Higher Ed, 96% of percent of college and university chief academic officers said they are extremely or somewhat confident in their institution’s ability to prepare students for success in the workforce. By comparison, the Gallup/Lumina Foundation Poll found just 11 percent of business leaders strongly agree today’s college graduates have the skills and competencies that their business needs.”

Myth #3: Online degrees are significantly less valuable than other degrees.

“All else being equal, 54 percent of business leaders say that employers are likely to hire a candidate who has a degree from an online higher education provider OVER a candidate with the same degree from a traditional higher education institution. The public’s positive perception of online education has slowly grown over the last three years. Fourteen percent of the general population now strongly agrees that online colleges and universities offer high quality education.”

There is one area of significant agreement, though: the importance of having some sort of postsecondary degree or credential.

  • “Seventy-four percent of Americans strongly agree or agree that a postsecondary degree or credential is important to attaining a better quality of life, while 90 percent believe it’s very or somewhat important to increase the proportion of Americans with postsecondary degrees or credentials.”
  • “Employers say that in the future a higher percentage of their jobs will require some kind of postsecondary degree or credential, and 82 percent of Americans believe that it will be even more important to have a postsecondary degree or credential to get a good job in the future.”

Considering that a degree is potentially valuable, it makes sense that Gallup/Lumina Foundation also investigated the rift between what students consider the most important information for making a good decision regarding college quality and affordability:

  • Financial assistance (82%)
  • Quality of college degree programs (81%)
  • Price of the college/university (78%)
  • Qualifications of the faculty (74%)
  • Percentage of graduates who are able to get a good job (72%)

Unfortunately, students found this information hard to access. When selecting a college or university, respondents reported finding it very to somewhat difficult accessing information for the following areas:

  • Percentage of students who have graduated from the college/university (31%)
  • Price of the college/university (38%)
  • Percentage of students who pursue further education (41%)
  • Financial assistance (44%)
  • Quality of college degree programs (51%)