9 in 10 small businesses think recent college grads have ‘unrealistic expectations’ 

A new survey shows 91% of small businesses fear colleges and universities are raising unrealistic career expectations for their graduates.  

The survey by recruiter Red Balloon and…

A new survey shows 91% of small businesses fear colleges and universities are raising unrealistic career expectations for their graduates.  

The survey by recruiter Red Balloon and Public Square said three areas rank as the top challenges for small business employers in hiring recent grads: salary expectations, work hours, and difficulty of work, according to the latest monthly Freedom Economy Index.   

For December, the Freedom Economy Index surveyed over 70,000 small business owners throughout the United States from Nov. 30 to Dec. 5, generating 682 responses.   

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4% and a 95% confidence level, said the pollster.  

Sixty-three percent of businesses said college grads have unrealistic expectations about salary levels; 62% said college grads have difficulty adjusting to the amount of work hours required; and 50% said college grads have the wrong expectations about the difficulty of work to be performed, according to a statement by Red Balloon.  

“All this adds up to why 80% of small business owners now say that a college degree makes no difference, or is actually a disincentive, when hiring their people,” Red Balloon CEO Andrew Crapuchettes said in a statement released with the poll.  

Small businesses represent 43.5% of U.S. GDP and about half the workforce, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Small Business Administration says small businesses account for 64% of all new jobs in the U.S. annually.   

Crapuchettes told The Lion small businesses are especially affected by the lack of work-ready graduates because they need workers who produce results, not revolution.  

“Why would I want to hire someone who’s been trained to be an anarchist, at a Marxist university for four years?” he asked. He said colleges are creating a false expectation and a false narrative of what post-college life is going to look like.  

Colleges are indoctrinating kids into feeling entitled, he says, but when reality sets in, performance suffers.  

“When they actually face the reality that looks nothing like [what they have been told], they perform very poorly in society as a whole and in the labor market,” he told The Lion.  

The Red Balloon/Public Square results dovetail with broader surveys of business leaders and recent graduates who say they feel colleges aren’t giving new job entrants the skills they need to succeed.  

A survey by Intelligent.com of 1,243 business leaders of various-sized enterprises found 40% felt graduates from the classes of 2020 to 2023 were “ill-prepared to enter the workforce,” according to CBS News. Poor work ethic and communication skills were the top reasons given for the low marks.  

That assessment very nearly matches what the graduates themselves are feeling. A survey from a year ago found nearly 2 of 5 recent college graduates feel inadequately prepared for the emotional challenges associated with employment.     

The latest December poll follows up a November Freedom Economy Index survey that showed small business owners are shy about hiring recent college graduates because of the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) ideology they’ve been taught at the university level.  

“The reality is that employers are not just neutral on the issue. They actually would like to avoid hiring [four-year grads], particularly out of some of these large ‘woke’ universities,” Crapuchettes told The Lion previously.  

The November poll found the “free market lacks confidence in a higher education system that has shifted its focus from academics to woke subjects like DEI.”