Professors are most likely to serve as mentors to undergraduate students, according to the results of a new survey, which found that 64 percent of recent graduates who reported having a mentor during college said their mentor was a professor. The next most common category was a college staff member.
The results are from the fourth annual version of the Strada-Gallup Alumni Survey, an iteration of the Gallup-Purdue Index that was rolled out in 2014. The nationally representative survey adds measures of life and job fulfillment to traditional metrics for assessing the value of a college education, such as job-placement rates and alumni salaries. (Gallup conducts some surveys for Inside Higher Ed, but this publication played no role in this survey.)
In this latest version, the survey found that recent graduates who were first-generation college students or members of minority groups were substantially less likely to identify a professor as their mentor.
"Prior research has suggested that mentees seek mentors with similar experiences and backgrounds, and that minority students often seek mentors of the same race/ethnicity and find information more helpful when their mentor is of the same race/ethnicity," the report said. "Unfortunately, minorities remain underrepresented in higher education."
Just 30 percent of respondents said the career advice they received from their college career services office was helpful or very helpful, the survey found, while 49 percent said the same of advice they received from faculty or staff members.
The survey also probed recent graduates about the academic challenge of college. Graduates who strongly agreed that they were challenged academically were 2.4 times more likely to say their education was worth the cost and 3.6 times more likely to say they were prepared for life outside of college.