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May 30, 2014

The Class of 2014 is the latest to enter the workforce (Hagerstown Community College/Flickr CC).

During this graduation season, many students are reflecting on their college experience and wondering what's next. A new poll from Gallup and Purdue University measures what about a college experience can lead to engaging careers and great jobs.

Gallup interviewed more than 30,000 college graduates from across the nation and WGBH's On Campus talked to Brandon Busteed of Gallup about the results.

Highlights from the interview:

BUSTEED: The stunning findings were really that it didn't matter where you went, by type of institution -- no difference between public and private, no difference between highly selective even top 100 ranked schools in U.S. News & World report -- but how you did college, how you experienced it mattered a lot.

CARAPEZZA: There's state public schools and elite private schools and you're finding that it doesn't matter where you end up.

BUSTEED: No, not at all. I mean there was not even a percentage point difference… I mean there's no doubt that there's individual schools that are doing really well on those measures. But just the distinction of whether they're private or public, whether they're selective or elite that makes no difference whatsoever. It's really how the student goes to college, how they do it, and how they experience it that makes all the difference.

CARAPEZZA: The survey's primary takeaway is that connecting with just one professor during a college career is one of the biggest factors in how graduates fare at work or after school.

BUSTEED: It's amazing to think that, right? That sounds real simple… But feeling that the professors cared about you as a person, sorting the professors that who more likely to be a mentor and give you that time.

CARAPEZZA: If you're a student or a parent looking at a campus right now, what should you be asking?

BUSTEED: First I'd want to have a good sense of how many of the students there feel that there professors care about them as a a person, feel that they're getting a mentoring relationship … that mentorship is really critical. And whether they're doing things that look, quite frankly, like real work.

CARAPEZZA: What was your personal experience at college? Did you have a mentor or a professor who really cared about you and invested in you emotionally.

BUSTEED: Absolutely... I assumed everyone got this in college, because I got it… And then when I looked down at the list and realized that 3 percent of college graduates hit all six of these magic elements, you realize that you're more likely a lotto winner then a college graduate… What's stunning is how few college graduates strongly agreed to those questions.

interview, gallup, busteed, increasing access and success, new business models

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