College and the Job Market Today

Fixing Inefficiencies Means Colleges and Employers Need to Change Their Behavior

By Peter Cappelli    //    Volume 32,  Number 2   //    March/April 2024

  • Although STEM fields dominate much of the policy discussion, they have a small proportion of the jobs for college grads. Most STEM degrees are not in demand, and the pathways from these degrees to stable careers are at best uncertain.
  • What employers say they want in new hires are knowledge and skills that are quite general and completely in accord with what educators believe is important: learning how to think critically, solve problems, communicate and write (at least before ChatGPT and the like), work with others, and so forth. The challenge is that in making hiring decisions, they disproportionately look for work experience that is similar to what the job requires.
  • Students, parents, and colleges are trying urgently to figure out what education will get students jobs. Unfortunately, colleges often focus on programs that look like job training, which is not what employers say they want. At the very least, practical courses should find ways to teach basic skills such as working with data, communicating, thinking critically, and so forth.
  • Purposeful internships and coop programs that combine work and learning are the path that seems to give employers what they want. The challenge is that employers have to participate in these programs. The best ones require longer-term commitments from employers, which are hard to secure. Asking employer alumni to work with their colleges on these challenges is the best way forward.

What casual observers of the job market for college graduates probably hear the most is that we don’t have enough STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) graduates. Yet only 28 percent of college graduates with STEM degrees are in STEM jobs. Only half of STEM graduates hold a job in what we think of as the hottest STEM field—computer-related work. When one looks beyond engineering to the sciences, those figures fall sharply.1

Statistics like these usually stun readers, especially business people, because they have heard so much about a shortfall in STEM graduates. Facts like these are surprising because our assumptions about the connection between education and jobs, which we often think of as a simple pipeline, are seriously out of touch with reality.

There was a time when employers were waiting to snap up college graduates for entry-level jobs and then mold them into corporate men (and much later—women). That model has been gone for more than a generation. In its place is a much more open marketplace where virtually all the workers who employers hire—by some measures 95 percent—are experienced. Training has all but disappeared, with the best estimates now showing that a typical employee gets about half a day of training per year—and that means training of any kind, including how to use new administrative systems. What is in short supply is not education or even skill training but work-based knowledge acquired through experience. Very, very few employers are looking for new college grads with only the potential to be molded into employees.

A related assumption is that jobs are changing very quickly and that skill requirements are ever rising, such that the overall workforce needs to upgrade and add skills, and that therefore, we need more college grads. That theoretical assertion typically confuses the skill required to build something with the skill required to use it: Large language models like ChatGPT, for example, are enormously complex but incredibly simple to use. We looked at the skill requirements for the first jobs that college grads in the United States took after graduating in 1994 and then examined what skills the first jobs required for new grads 15 years later and found that the level of skills required was identical. When we compared the jobs that the earlier cohort held 10 years into their careers—in 2003—with the jobs the later cohort held 10 years into their careers—in 2018—the requirements were also identical, with no evidence of any increase in those 15 years.2 About one-third of U.S. workers were overeducated for their jobs (for reviews, see, for example, Leuven and Oosterbeek 2011 and Clark et al. 2014),3 which we would not expect if education were really in short supply.

A more sophisticated argument still popular in economics relies on the empirical finding that the wage premium for college graduates over high school graduates was rising at a time when the supply of college graduates was also rising. The assertion was that the cause must therefore be that the demand for college graduates was rising, and the assumption was that college skills were needed for new or upgraded jobs. But there was another explanation in what was happening at the same time: that the college wage premium rose because of the collapse of wages for high school grads, which accompanied the decline of unions, competition for production work with China, and other economic factors. That college wage premium also began to decline for those born after 1970,4 which is incompatible with the idea that skill requirements are ever rising or, more generally, that there is some unmet need for more college grads.

To understand the reality of the contemporary job market for college grads, it helps to begin with some basic questions about why college degrees might matter in the first place.

Why Are Employers Willing to Pay More for College Grads?

It may be surprising to find that we are not sure what the answer is. There is agreement that there are three possible explanations, and there is support for all three. The first explanation, which is the one we hear the most about, is that college matters because it provides graduates with knowledge and skills that are valuable. New students are something like clay, and a college education molds them into something useful. This certainly sounds plausible for jobs in accounting and nursing, where a college degree leads to certifications necessary to do those jobs. It is less clear why that should be the case for the majority of graduates, who do not get jobs associated with their college major. A problem for this argument is that higher grades in college, which we think measure learning and knowledge attained, are not associated with higher job performance or higher pay.5

The second argument is that students who go to college are simply more capable and have more resources than those who do not. Those resources include personal attributes, such as IQ and executive skills and others that have to do with circumstances, such as more supportive families with money and social connections. Students with lots of resources might have been reasonably successful even if they had not gone to college, and college doesn’t make up for some of those resources that are circumstantial.

The third argument, related to screening, is that the key attribute of college grads is that they have demonstrated that they can complete something difficult. The special earnings premium for graduating is far and above the premium from simply going to college and even the premium from almost graduating, which is evidence against a simple explanation about skills: why does it matter so much to a person’s skills to take that last course to finish a degree? This is known as “the sheepskin effect” for the fact that a college diploma traditionally was printed on sheepskin (for classic examples, see Hungerford and Solon 1987 and Jaeger and Page 1996). We see this also at the high school level: those who pass the General Education Development (GED) test, thus certifying that they know the material taught in high schools, do not earn nearly as much as those who earn a regular high school diploma, thus demonstrating that they can show up for classes, get homework done, and stay out of trouble while doing so.6

Supply and demand in all aspects of the college job market also affects the payoff from college. When we add more college graduates to the labor force it would not be too surprising to find that their “price” as measured by their pay drops, all else being equal.7 In the 1980s, for example, South Korea embarked on a campaign to increase college enrollment, tripling the number of graduates over a decade. As a result, the wage premium associated with going to college fell by half.8 In the United States, from the 1970s into the 2010s, the supply of college grads also changed. In 1973, 24 percent of college-age people were attending two-year or four-year colleges. By 2012, that figure was up to 41 percent. The percentage attending four-year colleges jumped from 17 percent to a peak of 30 percent in 2011, depressing wages in the process.9

A simple-minded argument we often hear is that because college grads earn more money, if we can get more young people to go to college, they will make more money as well. The problem with this idea is first, as noted above, many attributes other than college attendance affect the success of graduates. So the students we would be adding to college have fewer of those advantages and are unlikely to do as well. Encouraging students who may not graduate to head to college creates huge financial risks for them and their families. One is that the percentage of four-year college students who take remedial classes repeating at least some high school material is up to roughly 30 percent, suggesting that they were not ready academically for college. The performance of those students is worse than that of other students even after taking those classes, which suggests at a minimum that the classes did not completely make up for their lower level of preparation.10

Second, not all college degrees are the same. The average amount of time spent studying has been on the decline since the 1920s.11 The explanation is less that colleges have cut their standards and more that they have added new programs that demand less from students. That includes online programs and for-profit providers aimed at non-traditional students. That change in programs is related to the facts that so many students work while in school and so many do not reside at colleges. They also do not have as much time available for learning. Sixty-two percent of college students in the most recent data report that they are working at a job while attending college, and almost 40 percent report that they have what we would think of as a full-time job—more than thirty-five hours per week.12 Only 64 percent of students going to school full time will graduate from the institution where they began within six years. The vast majority do not graduate in four years.13 Lack of money and the consequent need to work is a main reason why students do not graduate on time, but it is far from the only reason. The problem for students is that many of these new part-time programs don’t help with the narrow task they are trying to accomplish, which is to get better jobs.14

More generally, increasing the supply of graduates depresses wages, especially in these vocational programs toward which students are being directed. Encouraging more students to go to college is therefore no insurance that it will turn out well for them.

What do Employers Want in College Grads?

Unlike in earlier generations, when large companies in particular needed college graduates to fill entry-level positions and then to feed their internal job markets, that internal market is now gone, and with it, entry-level jobs. After World War II, it was common for U.S. employers to fill 90 percent of vacancies from within and for most of the remaining 10 percent to be entry-level jobs filled by school leavers. Now employers are filling only about 20 percent of their positions from within and 80 percent from outside, and college graduates and other school leavers account for only about 5 percent of all hires. In short, they no longer need large numbers of new grads to run their systems.15

Certainly, some prominent places do seek new college grads for entry-level jobs, mainly in a few STEM fields, such as engineering, accounting, and nursing. But in many of the STEM fields—basic sciences, for example—demand is very low. The only thing STEM programs have in common is a broad definition of science, for example, biology has relatively little in common with computer programming, for example. Even in fields such as nursing, where we continually hear of a shortage, new graduates without a bachelor’s degree often struggle to get their first job because they have no experience yet, something that was not true decades ago. Even with a bachelor’s degree, 16 percent of new nursing grads leave school without a job. Yet, this is clearly better than the 55 percent of all bachelor’s grads who lack a job six months after graduation.16

The push for more STEM grads comes almost entirely from information technology (IT) employers, who do rely on new grads with very specialized skills that are hard to predict in advance. It is a relatively small number overall but still crucial to them. The shortfall assertion is also an element of lobbying to increase the rate of immigration of IT workers, almost all of whom work in mid-level programming jobs rather than the superstar programming roles. The biggest users are actually Indian outsourcing companies that need workers in the United States: it is easier and cheaper for them to bring in Indian nationals as, among other things, it is difficult for them to quit and the higher U.S. pay scale makes these jobs very attractive to them.

Another reason IT companies need more college grads in these jobs is that those they hire tend to leave the field altogether for more attractive positions elsewhere. About half of engineering grads take jobs in fields other than engineering, with about 30 percent saying that they could not find a job in engineering and another 30 percent saying that the engineering jobs available were not as attractive as those in other fields.17 My own look at the IT field in the booming 1990s found that the biggest single issue affecting the supply of talent in those occupations was that people left them in droves after just a few years. The lack of career prospects appeared to be an important factor.18

Although these jobs generate the headlines, they are a small part of the overall job market for college graduates. The job market for new grads has been worse than for experienced workers for some time: Even in late 2021, when the job market turned red hot, only 55 percent of bachelor’s grads had jobs six months after graduation. It has been clear for decades now that, unlike what industry associations and employer groups often say, what is most important for employers who are hiring is not STEM skills or even technical skills. In the 1990s, employers reported that the most important attribute in school leavers—whether they had degrees or not—was their attitude towards work, their conscientiousness and their commitment rather than their particular skills, because employers intended to train those new hires. As employers’ willingness to train declined, their interest changed. A fascinating survey of employers conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers asking about specific abilities and skills that employers valued in new hires who were college grads found that “technical knowledge related to the job”—vocational skills such as hospitality management—ranked sixth out of nine attributes. In other words, employers were not interested in college as a way for grads to acquire job skills. The top five attributes were all general skills, with problem-solving abilities in the top spot.19 These are skills that can be learned in a wide range of rigorous programs.20

The survey in 2023, when the job market was tighter and employers should be less picky than in earlier decades, asked employers about the importance of types of skills in assessing candidates. Here again, technical skills of the kind we might learn in classrooms ranked last, tied with communication skills. A strong work ethic continued to beat out analytic, communication, and technical skills. Top of the list again was problem-solving abilities, followed closely by the ability to work in teams—a strength of liberal arts education. A survey of employers from the Association of American Colleges and Universities generated a virtually identical list, with a majority concluding that a liberal arts education was a good way to get these skills. But experience in “real-world settings”—work experience—also made the top choices.21

Employers value these skills, but they still seem to rely on work experience when hiring. They say that having had internships trumps whatever a grad’s college major was—by a lot—as do any work-like experiences in college. Unpaid volunteer experiences outside the classroom were almost as important as the college major, and extracurricular activities, such as being in the French club, were just about as important.22 Another, more recent survey of employers found very similar results: internships, work in the community, and employment during college ranked as the top three college experiences for hiring, above seven other experiences that were associated with classroom contexts. In other words, the top criteria that employers were looking for in college graduates were all activities done off campus and outside an academic context. In 2021, the top skill requirement was the ability to work in teams.23

These findings should be fatal to the assumption that employers are looking for college grads to have technical skills or STEM skills. Again, the classroom skills that are valued are quite general and could be learned in any serious degree program—ironically, perhaps especially in programs such as philosophy that are typically thought to produce unemployable grads. Work experience is far and away the most important attribute because most employers don’t want to spend the time or money to give new hires the initial skills one learns in any first job, such as showing up on time and getting along with other people. The more that prior work experience looks like the jobs to be filled, the better. Again, what is driving this criterion is that employers do not want to make an investment in training and serious onboarding if they can avoid it. That seems understandable, but the fact that they seem to care so little about the academic content that graduates had should be a shock.

The focus employers have on what graduates learn from extracurricular activities unfortunately intersects with the fact that more college graduates today piece together a degree from classes taken part-time at several colleges, often in office parks that lack the residential experience that provides many of those extracurricular activities. None of this suggests that it has been a bad development to expand access to those who have had fewer resources and a less rigorous high school experience, but the average college degree today does not signal the same experience as it did a generation ago, and graduates are nowhere near as scarce as they were then.

One might imagine that colleges would address what employers actually want by pointing out to students that majors do not matter so much and instead integrate into all classes the general skills that employers want, such as problem solving, thinking critically, and working in teams. There is little evidence of a shift like that, at least not a broad one. In fact, many colleges have done the opposite.

The important stakeholders for all but the most elite colleges are financially nervous parents and applicants paying for their own college costs, who worry about what kind of payback they will get from their increasingly expensive education. They want some assurance that they will be able to get a good job in the end. Colleges have responded with a torrent of very practical and specific degree programs and majors that sound like job titles, and their advertising certainly implies that those programs will lead to such jobs.

Consider as examples the bakery science program at Kansas State University, the turf and turfgrass management programs at Ohio State and Purdue universities, fire protection engineering at Oklahoma State and other schools, and economic crime investigation at Utica College. The list goes on indefinitely, and remember, these are four-year bachelor’s degree programs. Drexel University, known for its practical orientation, offers eighty undergraduate majors, but even the more traditional Widener University offers sixty. Most of these majors sound sensible—screenwriting, supply chain management, TV production—because they sound like job titles.

It is not clear that these majors actually lead to jobs in these fields. Yet, if not, what was the point of choosing them? They are not focused on the general skills that employers say they want, and they are likely to turn off employers that are trying to fill vacancies in other areas. What do you do with a major in gaming if casinos are not hiring the year you graduate?

What colleges have done that is much more useful is create lots of internship programs. The ones that employers want new hires to have are internships with real employers doing real work, as noted earlier. Why would employers not want to create internships? Employment law drives quirky behavior in the context of internships, starting with the fact that under the Fair Labor Standards Act, interns must be paid for any work they are doing that creates any value for private sector employers. That requires employers to hire interns as employees, creating an administrative burden, and it is not so obvious how useful interns are likely to be in the few weeks during which they are likely to be employed. Paying interns who cannot contribute much just to help the interns seems unreasonably generous. The key exception to this law is that internships can be unpaid if they are primarily for the benefit of the intern’s learning. By some estimates, a majority of internships now are unpaid.24 The easiest way to pass this hurdle is if the intern is getting college credit for the internship; then, the assumption is that the purpose of the internship is to help employees learn.

Having free interns certainly makes such programs more attractive to employers. What is less obvious is that it is also cheaper for colleges because rather than having to pay instructors and facility costs for a course, they can deliver the same amount of college credit through an internship without many of those costs. Whether it is worth it for parents and students to pay tuition for unpaid work experience is another question. The problem for colleges is getting and keeping employers engaged in internship programs. Employers’ main interest is to screen interns for permanent positions after graduation. But the number of such positions is likely to be quite small, and they disappear entirely in years when the employer is not hiring.

Two-Year Colleges?

Virtually all the discussion about college education focuses on bachelor’s programs, but community and junior college programs are arguably as important. Each year, colleges issue roughly half as many associate degrees as bachelor’s degrees. Many students attend two-year colleges to earn certificates rather than degrees. The number of such certificates awarded each year is roughly equal to the number of associate degrees, each at about one million. Then we have master’s degrees, about 800,000 per year. Certificates, associate degrees, and master’s degree programs are on average much more vocational than are bachelor’s degree programs.25 One-third of master’s programs are in business administration. Roughly a third of bachelor’s degree holders have master’s degrees, but that number will surely grow quickly as the number of master’s degree programs is approaching the number of bachelor’s degree programs (and individuals can have more than one master’s degree). If most bachelor’s degree grads move on to vocational master’s degrees, the concern about whether the former are vocational enough seems at best modest.

Two-year colleges, in contrast, should be a serious focus for employers as so much of their programming is about employability. The growth of these programs over the past 30 years certainly relates to the cutback in employer-provided training programs, apprenticeship programs, and vocational education in high school. The United States now has proportionately the smallest number of vocational education and apprentice programs in the developed world, although data on training programs are hard to come by, (we may likely provide the least training as well). These programs provide the kind of initial work experience and some of the skills that internships strive to offer for bachelor’s degree candidates. With the cutbacks, many more students must head to two-year colleges, especially local community colleges, to learn work skills.

This shift is a bad thing for many reasons. First, vocational education has been free in public schools or on the job, and community college is not, even though it is much cheaper than four-year college. But it is typically not residential, which means losing out on some of those learning experiences about which employers care. Second, trade skills in particular require hands-on learning that the classroom settings of community colleges are poorly suited to deliver. Apprenticeships, in contrast, have apprentices doing work of value that allows them to be paid.

One of the reasons so many high school graduates now want to go to college is not necessarily because the options associated with college have improved. It is because the alternatives are so limited. But even holding costs aside, going to college is not better for everyone. María Prada and Sergio Urzúa of the National Bureau of Economic Research found that U.S. students who had mechanical ability but not necessarily strong interpersonal skills or cognitive ability or IQ were better off in terms of earnings if they did not go to college. These are people who become mechanics or machinists or work in other high-paid craft jobs. For them, the rate of return for investing in college was actually negative.26

A Change in Behavior?

A good description of the job market for college students in the United States is that it is messy and inefficient. That messiness began when employers pulled back on the training that in the past transformed unskilled school leavers into useful employees. What employers want is a substitute for that work-based learning, which schools and colleges are not well suited to deliver. Furthermore, the notion we often hear that employers should just tell colleges what they want and that colleges should deliver that ignores the fact that employers cannot predict what kind of hires and how many they will need, given that it takes at least four years to produce a college graduate. In technical fields such as IT, it is difficult to predict more than a year or so in advance what the hot skills will be. (Those who think they can make these predictions should remember the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Recession, the OPEC oil shocks, and other events that derailed business and hiring plans for a long time as well as how often hiring plans are put on hold to help companies hit quarterly financial targets.)

Students try desperately to figure out what employers are looking for in new hires, and over time, they have shifted their majors and interests accordingly but with a time lag. In fields such as petroleum engineering, that creates supply and demand changes that are out of sync: when business is booming, those college majors are flooded, but when it declines, massive numbers of new graduates with those majors are unemployed.

Overall, then, is the current arrangement a problem? It is not too surprising to find that employers want more applicants who better fit the skills they need and that graduates want better jobs that pay more. Those demands were inevitable and not the focus of serious policy interest. The current arrangement, which relies heavily on unpaid internships, works well for colleges, somewhat well for employers, and poorly for parents and students, but the latter group is the one that lacks lobbying power.

The problems for the economy and for society with this arrangement begin with the fact that alternative arrangements would be cheaper and better. Apprentice-like experiences and more job training would provide better job skills more cheaply. New graduates obviously have a problem in that everyone wants someone who already has work experience, but no one wants to give new graduates that initial work experience. We find new grads “volunteering” in work contexts such as non-profits that are not required to pay them or taking low-level or low-paid jobs just to get experience, and then gradually moving to jobs that may require more of the education they already have. We also see this problem ebbing and flowing with the tightness of the labor market: in the down market of the Great Recession, new grads struggled for years afterwards just to get a reasonable job; in the tight job market in 2021, many of them found reasonable jobs relatively quickly.

Improving this situation requires changes in employer and college practices that might bring the two closer together, in the way that cooperative programs operate, where employers provide structured work experiences coordinated with classroom lessons and colleges teach using more examples that are relevant to what employers want. Making that happen requires employers and colleges to change their behavior, and so far, they evince little interest in doing so. Nor is there interest in having government compel or press them to head in that direction.

Peter Cappelli, PhD, is a professor of management and director of the Center for Human Resources at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he is also a professor of education. He is a fellow of the German Marshall Fund, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution. Cappelli is the author of several books, including Will College Pay Off? and Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs.


1. Jennifer Cheeseman Day and Anthony Martinez, “Does Majoring in STEM Lead to a STEM Job After Graduation?”, (America Counts: Stories, U.S. Census Bureau 2 June 2021),

2. Peter Cappelli and Shoshana Schwartz, “The Role of College in Career Advancement” (working paper, Wharton School, 2024).

3. Edwin Leuven and Hessel Oosterbeek, “Overeducation and Mismatch in the Labor Market,” Handbook of the Economics of Education, vol. 3–4 (Waltham, Mass.: Elsevier, 2011), 283–326. Brian Clark, Clement Joubert, and Arnaud Maurel, “The Career Prospects of Overeducated Americans,” Journal of Labor Economics 6, no. 1 (2017), DOI-10.0.1186/s40172-017-0053-4.

4. Jared Ashworth and Tyler Ransom, “Has the College Wage Premium Continued to Rise? Evidence from Multiple US Surveys,” Economics of Education Review 69 (2019): 149–154.

5. See Phillip L. Roth, Craig A. BeVier, Fred S. Switzer III, and Jeffery S. Schippmann, “Meta-Analyzing the Relations Between Grades and Job Performance,” Journal of Applied Psychology 81, no. 5 (1996): 548–556.

6. For more on GED certificates, see David Boesel, Nabeel Alsalam, and Thomas M. Smith, Educational and Labor Market Performance of GED Recipients (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, National Library of Education, 1998).

7. The caveat to this story is the “skill-biased” finding just mentioned—that at least relative to high school grads, this did not happen through the 1980s, but this is where an “other things being equal” story matters.

8. Yukon Huang and Canyon Bosler, “China’s Burgeoning Graduates—Too Much of a Good Thing?” (The National Interest, January 7, 2014),

9. See National Center on Education and Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics (U.S. Department of Education, 2013), Table 302.60.

10. National Center for Education Statistics, Remedial Coursetaking at US Public 2-and 4-Year Institutions: Scope, Experience, and Outcomes (U.S. Department of Education, 2016).

11. Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks, “The Falling Time Cost of College: Evidence from Half a Century of Time Use Data,” Review of Economics and Statistics 93, no. 2 (2011): 468–478.

12. National Center for Educational Statistics, “Characteristics of Postsecondary Students” (U.S. Department of Education, May 2014), Seven percent of full-time students and 32 percent of part-time ones work thirty-five or more hours.

13. National Center for Educational Statistics, “Fast Facts: Undergraduate Graduation Rates” (U.S. Department of Education, n.d.).

14. See, for example, Tressie McMillan Cottom, Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy (New York: The New Press, 2017).

15. These and other statistics about current employment practices appear in Peter Cappelli, Our Least Important Asset: How the Relentless Focus on Finance and Accounting Is Bad for Workers and Business (New York: Oxford University Press, 2023).

16. American Association of Colleges of Nursing, “New Graduate Employment Data, 2003 Employment Research Brief” (2023),

17. For the shortage view, see National Academies of Science, Rising Above the Gathering Storm (Washington, D.C., 2007). For the surplus view, see Robert N. Charette, “The Stem Crisis Is A Myth,” IEEE Spectrum (August 30, 2013).

18. Data for the beginning of the twenty-first century are in John Tsapogas, “Employment Outcomes of Recent Science and Engineering Graduates Vary by Field of Degree and Sector of Employment” (National Science Foundation InfoBrief NSF 04–316, May 2004), Evidence as to why engineers leave the field is in Lisa Frehill, “Satisfaction: Why Do People Give Up Engineering? Surveys of Men and Women Engineers Tell an Unexpected Story,” Today’s Engineer (IEEE-USA) (February 2010), My study of IT workers is Peter Cappelli, “Why Is It So Hard to Find Information Technology Workers?,” Organizational Dynamics 30, no. 2 (2001): 87–99.

19. See National Association of Colleges and Employers, “The Skills and Qualities Employers Value Most in Their New Hires” (Bethlehem, Pa., 2014).

21. National Association of Colleges and Employers, “The Job Market for the Class of 2023: Key Skills/Competencies Employers Are Seeking and the Impact of Career Center Use” (press release, April 27, 2023),

22. Chronicle of Higher Education, “The Role of Higher Education in Career Development: Employer Perceptions,” 2012,

23. Ashley Finley, “How College Contributes to Workforce Success: Employer Views on What Matters Most” (American Association of Colleges and Universities, 2021).

24. Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions, University of Wisconsin–Madison, “Exploring Unpaid Internships: Issues of Access, Equity, and Learning, A Report of the Online CCWT Symposium” (April 7, 2022),

25. National Center for Education Statistics, “Postsecondary Certificates and Degrees Conferred” (U.S. Department of Education, 2023), fig. 1.

26. See María Prada and Sergio Urzúa, “One Size Does Not Fit All: Multiple Dimensions of Ability, College Attendance, and Wages” (NBER Working Paper 20752, National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Mass., 2014).


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