6 Keys to a Great Job, Great Life

Many people have asked in recent years whether a high quality college education is worth the investment. Typically the question is answered in terms of the most readily available data on post-graduation employment and income.

Over the last two years, the Gallup polling organization has shed more light on the impact of a college education by surveying 30,000 college graduates across the country to find whether having a college education increases the likelihood of having a great job and leading a great life.

Gallup defined a great job as one that keeps you intellectually and emotionally connected to your work because you are doing something you are good at. It is a job that matters to you and to others. Gallup also described “great lives” as lives in which people feel connected to others and to their community, are energetic and healthy, feel financially secure, and are living lives of purpose.

Alumni from IC were among the 30,000 college graduates surveyed across the country, but the results were consistent across all colleges and universities. Gallup found that only 39 percent of college graduates have jobs in which they feel highly engaged. Just 11 percent reported living lives that met all dimensions included in the survey. In other words, a college education does not guarantee a great job and life.

However, Gallup found that alumni whose college years included six key experiences were nearly six times as likely as other college graduates to have a great job and live a great life. These alumni reported that while in college they:

(1) found an inspiring professor who caused them to be enthusiastic about learning

(2) found a professor who cared about them as a person

(3) found a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams

(4) worked on a challenging project that took longer than one semester to complete

(5) worked in an internship or other field experience that gave them an opportunity to apply their skills, and

(6) were active in at least one extracurricular organization.

Sounds like Ithaca College, doesn’t it?

So yes, college is worth the investment! Like anything, though, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it. Those alumni who took advantage of the opportunities and challenges offered in college were very likely to have great jobs that engage them, and to live lives of health, wealth, connection, and purpose.

I regularly urge current students to set their sights on a college experience that takes full advantage of these and other opportunities. In any given semester IC students can choose from among hundreds of challenging projects, extracurricular organizations, and internships related to their fields of study.