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College Degrees for Entry-Level Jobs

March 22, 2017

A new study from the Rockefeller Foundation and Edelman Intelligence questions whether the college degree is the best way to screen candidates for entry-level jobs.

The survey of 1,200 recent college graduates, human-resources officials, company executives and young people who face economic barriers found that the top metric for evaluating a new employee is how well he or she fits with company culture, according to 49 percent of employer respondents, criteria the study said can be subjective and unscientific.

As a result, 69 percent of employers require college degrees in the new-hire screening process, which the foundation calls a “blunt proxy for general skills, because employers lack alternate tools or methods to predict candidates’ career success.”

That also means young people who have faced economic challenges are at a disadvantage in the hiring process, the foundation said.

“The results of this survey underscore the real opportunity that employers have to strengthen their talent pipelines and improve employment outcomes by broadening and diversifying their applicant pool,” Abigail Carlton, managing director at the foundation, in a written statement. “We hope this research will encourage employers to take a closer look at some of their existing HR practices and explore how impact hiring may help expand entry-level employment opportunities for underserved populations and deliver tangible business value.”

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Paul Fain

Paul Fain, Contributing Editor, came to Inside Higher Ed in September 2011, after a six-year stint covering leadership and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Paul has also worked in higher ed P.R., with Widmeyer Communications, but couldn't stay away from reporting. A former staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Va., Paul has written for The New York Times, Washington City Paper and Mother Jones. He's won a few journalism awards, including one for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association and the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. Paul got hooked on journalism while working too many hours at The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in political science in 1996. A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a long-suffering fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Fain plays guitar in a band with more possible names than polished songs.

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