Making the Grade: Eight in 10 Executives Believe a Parent Cares More About Their Child Getting into a Top-Tier School Than the Student Does, According to Korn Ferry Survey

-Nearly Three-Quarters Say a College Degree is Worth the Price-

-When Evaluating College Grad Candidates, Executives Care More about Hunger/Hustle than The School They Attended-

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Being admitted to a prestigious college or university matters a lot more to mom and dad than it does to their child. That according to a new executive survey from Korn Ferry (NYSE:KFY).

More than three-quarters (81 percent) of respondents say that a parent cares more about getting into a top tier-school than the student.

Parents are also willing to work to get their students accepted. Ninety-nine percent of executives say parents should be involved in the college application process, with 40 percent saying they should be heavily involved.

“In today’s society, many parents don’t give their children the chance to do their own work, and more importantly, let them fail sometimes,” said Ally Van Deuren, Korn Ferry University Relations Center of Excellence Lead (North America). “While everyone wants the best for their children, sometimes letting them take the reins of their own lives will have the best long-term outcome.”

For most executives, college is must-do for their children. Nearly three-quarters (68 percent) said they would not be okay with their child’s decision to forego higher education. And even with the skyrocketing costs, 73 percent say a college degree is worth the price.

The acceptance process is flawed in the minds of the respondents. Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) say the way colleges choose who gets in is unfair.

Interestingly, even though executives say parents put such a high emphasis on college for their own children, a job candidate’s college background doesn’t seem to be as critical when executives consider who they hire. Eighty-three percent say hunger/hustle is more important in a candidate than the caliber of the university they attended.

When hiring entry to mid-level talent, 86 percent say previous work experience is more important than the university from which the candidate graduated.

And even with a degree, executives don’t feel that entry-level candidates are prepared. Only 43 percent say college grads have the skills and training needed to do the job.

“Getting admitted to a university is just the first step in a long process of succeeding in the higher education experience,” said Van Deuren. “While parents need to offer encouragement and support, they also need to let go and let their child learn and grow into their own success. This will help employers in the long run, as this approach contributes to creating prepared, confident and talented employees.”

About the survey:

Korn Ferry conducted the survey in mid-March 2019. There were 798 responses. Survey responses follow:


Who do you feel generally cares more about getting into a top-tier school?

The student   19 percent
The parent 81 percent

How much involvement should a parent have in helping their children apply to and select colleges?

No involvement 1 percent
Little / some involvement 59 percent
A lot of involvement 40 percent

Do you think the process colleges/universities use to select candidates is fair?

Yes 39 percent
No 61 percent

Would you agree with your son or daughter’s decision not to pursue a college degree?

Yes 32 percent
No 68 percent

Is getting a college degree today worth the investment?

Yes 73 percent
No 27 percent

When evaluating a candidate for an entry to mid-level role, what is more important, previous work experience or the college they attended?

Previous work experience 86 percent
College they attended 14 percent

When hiring a college graduate, what is most important?

Pedigree/caliber of the college they attended 17 percent
Hunger/hustle 83 percent

Do college graduates today have the appropriate skills/training to be in the workforce?

Yes 43 percent
No 57 percent

Is a college degree overrated?

Yes 18 percent
No 72 percent

Is a college degree more important or less important today than five years ago?

More important 56 percent
Less important 44 percent

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We help clients synchronize strategy and talent to drive superior performance. We work with organizations to design their structures, roles, and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people to bring their strategy to life. And we advise them on how to reward, develop, and motivate their people.

Tracy Kurschner

Source: Korn Ferry