How to Set College Students Up for Success after Graduation

Posted by Strada Education Network on November 9, 2021

As a university president, Strada’s Ruth Watkins focused on degree completion. But now she, like hundreds of other higher education leaders, is coming to understand it isn’t enough.

“Today we’re having a conversation that says the finish line isn’t actually the completion of a degree,” Watkins said while moderating a webinar last week. “We have to understand, measure, and actually actively improve tangible outcomes beyond completion so that everyone can share equitably in that success.”

Strada’s latest research turns to U.S. adults who hold bachelor’s degrees and asks: What was valuable about your experience? What skills learned through college proved most essential? And what was lacking?

Among other findings, the report reveals that bachelor’s degree holders who reported quality experiences connecting their education to career preparation earned more money and were significantly more likely to agree their education was worth the cost and helped them to achieve their goals.

In a webinar based on the research, Watkins and other experts shared insights on steps institutions can take to set up students for success after they earn their degrees:

  • Ensure in-demand professional skills are part of undergraduate education and help students understand what skills they are learning and how to communicate them to employers.
  • Reconsider how the institution measures success and look at career development outcomes.
  • Embrace the power of mentorship and social capital development.
  • Identify faculty champions for better connecting education and work.

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