Better practical skills and larger student bodies cause big U.S. companies to look for employees at state schools rather than private schools, according to a study.
According to a study by the The Wall Street Journal, recruiters tend to favor graduates from large state schools when looking for analysts, developers and engineers, while turning to private and Ivy League schools for skills like communication and critical thinking.
The study surveyed 479 of the largest public and private universities, looking for trends among places companies look for employees rather than desired skill sets and test scores. According to the study, recruiters said top-ranked public schools, like Texas A&M University and Pennsylvania State University, have graduates that are best prepared and are most able to succeed.
John Thompson, executive director of the university’s career services, said employers would rather look at a school where 3,000 students are available in a field as opposed to a school with only about 200. Private schools will almost always have enrollments under 20,000 total students, and companies would rather have a bigger pool of students, Thompson said.
“A lot of them prefer the big pool,” he said. “Some of the bigger employers won’t recruit at a school like TCU because they only recruit at two or three schools, and they are always big schools.”
Josh Wilken, an alumnus who graduated with a degree in engineering, wrote in an e-mail that the reputation of an individual school and the corporation’s experience with their product matters more in a decision than public versus private [university].
“It’s the quality and fit of the candidate that matters the most”, Wilken wrote.
Alana Hefner, assistant director of career services at Tarleton State University, said graduating from a private school comes with prestige.
“I think private and public universities probably struggle with the exact same thing that anybody does, [which] is numbers,” she said.
Hefner said employers look at the numbers coming out of each school.
The study only examined larger companies because smaller companies generally don’t interact with as many colleges. It focused on identifying the schools that are most likely to help students land a job in key professions.
According to the study, even private universities like University of Notre Dame and the University of Southern California barely made the Top-25 recruiter picks.
In a weak economy, however, employers are focusing more on schools that are nearby to form deeper partnerships with the faculty, according to the study.
Thompson said the university’s career services needed to have good relationships with local companies because about 60 percent of students were local and most likely wanted to stay close after graduation. He said career Services strived to get a mixture of large and small companies, as well as Fortune 500 companies, and to get as many opportunities for students that it could get.