Student engagement and debt levels linked to later life wellbeing

A recent Gallup-Purdue report from the US makes some interesting findings on graduates.  The Executive Summary notes:

 where graduates went to college — public or private, small or large, very selective or not selective — hardly matters at all to their current well-being and their work lives in comparison to their experiences in college. For example, if graduates had a professor who cared about them as a person, made them excited about learning, and encouraged them to pursue their dreams, their odds of being engaged at work more than doubled, as did their odds of thriving in their well-being. And if graduates had an internship or job where they were able to apply what they were learning in the classroom, were actively involved in extracurricular activities and organizations, and worked on projects that took a semester or more to complete, their odds of being engaged at work doubled also. Feeling supported and having deep learning experiences means everything when it comes to long-term outcomes for college graduates.

A Huffington Post article which has more data than the online report quotes the report as saying:

Relatively recent college graduates — those who earned their degree from 2000 to 2014 — who have more than $50,000 in student debt are significantly less likely to be thriving financially and physically than their counterparts without loans,” Gallup said. “They are also less likely to have a strong sense of purpose and to be thriving in their community well-being. Notably, for 2000-2014 graduates, the most indebted degree holders are less likely to be thriving in social well-being, something that is not true of the larger sample.

These results relate to college graduates who have significantly less debt burdens than law students. 

Together the report suggests Australian law schools are heading in the right direction with student experiential learning but there are significant dangers ahead for students if there are fee increases.

Alex Steel

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