Many graduates regret choice of majors: survey

SECOND THOUGHTS: Recent students expressed regret about what they had studied after finding their qualifications failed to help them land their jobs of choice


Sun, Jul 02, 2006 - Page 2

A recent survey conducted by the National Youth Commission found that as many as 40 percent of this year's college graduates polled felt that they made the wrong choice of majors at school and that these majors would not help them find their ideal job.

Major concerns were the employability of these graduates and whether higher education really prepares students to find and keep good jobs, said Liu Meng-chi (劉孟奇), a professor and researcher for the commission.

The survey, conducted from February to May, targeted 1,705 students of 114 colleges that graduated in 2002, 3,522 students of 129 schools who graduated this year, 452 employers and 70 career counselors.

Some 40 percent of the students felt they chose the wrong majors because they were "not what they had originally thought," or that a future in their chosen fields "wasn't what they imagined."

Liu said that colleges in the country could learn from the US education system, in which students enter schools without having to choose majors until their third year.

Also, colleges should strengthen career counseling for students, since most counselors polled said that very little money was set aside for careers centers, Liu said.

Counselors polled also felt that students needed to participate more in career-related activities held by schools, as only 20.9 percent of the students surveyed said they asked for advice at school.

For the students who graduated in 2002, the average time taken to find their first job was 1.76 months and the average salary was NT$35,400 (US$1,093), according to the survey.

The average monthly salary for male graduates was NT$4,400 higher than for female graduates, while public school graduates earned an average of NT$5,550 more per month than private school graduates.

Public, or national colleges are often regarded as more prestigious than private schools.

Students with science, medical or engineering majors on average earned NT$1,240 more per month than business or humanities majors, and almost NT$4,000 more than art degrees.

Liu said that according to the survey, the sooner jobs were found, the higher the salaries were for graduates.

However, 45 percent of the 2002 graduates said that they had switched jobs and 27 percent felt that their jobs had nothing to do with what they had learned in school.

As for employers who hired college graduates over the past three years, 69 percent were "satisfied" or were "somewhat satisfied" with them.

Liu said this indicated that college graduates needed to be better prepared.

In the survey students who graduated last month hoped for an average salary of NT$28,500 per month.

Some 40 percent planned to start work immediately, while 21.9 planned on going to graduate school.

A further 5.5 percent wanted to go abroad for further studies, while 7.1 percent were still undecided about what to do.