Aug 7, 2014

We all know that a college education can almost double a person’s median income, but what can it tell us about how engaged that person will be while making that income?

Gallup’s annual Gallup-Purdue Index Report is a great resource for employers looking to get a feel for the well-being and mindset of recent college graduates entering the workforce, and this year’s report shed some light on what the future of engagement holds.

Some key findings were:

  • Overall, 39 percent of all recent college graduates in full-time positions are engaged at work, which is higher than the national average (30 percent).
  • Graduates of for-profit colleges are considerably less likely to be engaged at work (29 percent) than graduates of private, not-for-profit institutions (40 percent) or public institutions (38 percent).
  • As many graduates from the Top 100 U.S. News and World Report schools are as engaged in their work as graduates from other institutions.

School pedigree is largely irrelevant

Surprisingly, pedigree is largely irrelevant when it comes to engagement, with the exception of private for-profit schools — an Ivy-leaguer will be no more engaged at work than a state or community college grad.

In addition, it doesn’t matter what level of education is earned — Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate – the engagement levels remain the same.

However, mentorships, friendships, and personal connections made while attending college can augment post-grad engagement in impressive ways.

Gallup found that if an employed graduate had a professor who cared about them as a person, one who made them excited about learning, and had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their dreams, the graduate’s odds of being engaged at work more than doubled.

Furthermore, if a graduate feels their college has prepared them well for the job market, the odds are tripled. Sadly, only 14 percent of graduates report that any of this is the case!

Mentor’s can make a difference

Gallup’s findings go to show how crucial mentoring and developing talent will be to creating an engaged workforce in the coming years. If caring about a person and mentoring their career can mean a three-fold difference in engagement before they even enter the job market, then assigning mentors to recent college grads in the workplace should be automatic.

While the future leaders of America have a leg up on the national engagement average, a majority of them are still looking for someone to take an interest and show them what’s possible.

This was originally published on the Michael C. Fina blog.