Today’s College Students Value Connections and Experiences More Than Higher Salaries

Barnes & Noble College Releases the “Value of College” Study, the Newest Research from its College Insights Platform in Partnership with Money

BASKING RIDGE, N.J.--()--For today’s students, chasing financial success is less important than preparing for a fulfilling career, gaining exposure to new ideas and developing critical thinking skills, according to the “Value of College,” a new study released today by Barnes & Noble College, a Barnes & Noble Education company (NYSE:BNED) and Money. These findings are in stark contrast to traditional motivations for obtaining a college degree, such as increased earning potential and connections to influential alumni.

“Today’s students are more interested in fulfillment and connections than generations of the past,” said Lisa Malat, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Barnes & Noble College. “These students are also very cost conscious.”

According to the Barnes & Noble College/Money “Value of College” study, nearly two-thirds of students said they eliminated certain schools from consideration due to cost, while only half of parents said cost was a determining factor. The study findings also indicate that less expensive schools deliver as much or more perceived value and benefits for both parents and students than more expensive schools.

Malat continued, “While today’s students recognize the high cost of education, many do not have a full appreciation for the sacrifices parents make to pay for that education. In addition, many do not take advantage of the career services resources available on campus.”

According to the survey, 58 percent of parents cut back on everyday spending and 41 percent cut back on saving for retirement to finance their children’s education. More than a third of students, however, said their parents made no sacrifices at all or were unaware of any sacrifices. The study also shows a disconnect in regards to career preparation. While many colleges and universities place great emphasis on providing career services like resume writing and interviewing skills, 30 percent of students said they were unaware or did not take advantage of the support offered by their school.

“This study validates what we discovered in our previous College Insights research reports on Millennials and Gen Z – schools need to be more proactive in reaching out to their students in this area,” said Malat. “We see this as an opportunity for colleges and universities to help drive even greater success for their students.”

The Barnes & Noble College “Value of College” study is part of the company’s College Insights platform, which regularly taps into its network of more than 10,000 students, parents and faculty to better understand the thinking, behaviors and expectations of current and future college students and other constituencies. Completed in partnership with Money, this particular survey was designed to gauge today’s attitudes about higher education among both students and parents. The survey explored everything from the cost versus the value of college, to the realities of life after graduation.

"As our third annual Best Colleges rankings make clear, affordability can go hand in hand with a top-notch education and career prep —if you know where and how to look," said Money editor Diane Harris.

Other highlights of the study include:

  • 60 percent of students don’t expect to leave the nest immediately after college, both in terms of where they live and the financial support they will continue to need.
  • Students are most likely to cite cost and social fit as reasons why they would switch schools.
  • Students say aspects like male-to-female ratio, fraternities and sororities and intercollegiate athletics rank near the bottom of their selection criteria.

For more information on Barnes & Noble College’s “Value of College” study, visit


The comprehensive survey was conducted online by Barnes & Noble College Insights SM, utilizing its propriety student and parent POV panels. The study compared and contrasted three groups: 1,100 current college students, 1,583 parents of current college students, and 1,583 parents of graduates.

To accurately represent U.S. four-year college students and their parents, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) was used for demographic information, including (1) to select respondent samples from the B&NC panels, and (2) to weight the survey responses of participants. As a result, differences between respondent groups are not due to demographic imbalances.


Barnes & Noble College, a Barnes & Noble Education company (NYSE:BNED), is a leading operator of college bookstores in the United States. Barnes & Noble College currently operates 751 campus bookstores and the school-branded e-commerce sites for each store, serving more than 5 million college students and faculty nationwide. As a strategic partner, Barnes & Noble College is committed to offering a complete support system and an unmatched retail and digital learning experience to foster student success in higher education. The Company is a leading voice in understanding and shaping today’s college student experience through its College Insights platform.


Barnes & Noble Education, Inc. (NYSE:BNED), one of the largest contract operators of bookstores on college and university campuses across the United States and a leading provider of digital education services, enhances the academic and social purpose of educational institutions. Through its Barnes & Noble College subsidiary, Barnes & Noble Education serves more than 5 million college students and faculty through its 751 stores on campuses nationwide, delivering essential educational content and tools within a dynamic retail environment. Through its digital platforms LoudCloud and Yuzu®, Barnes & Noble Education offers an excellent digital reading experience and access to a broad catalog of content and technology. Barnes & Noble Education acts as a strategic partner to drive student success; provide value and support to students and faculty; and create loyalty and retention, all while supporting the financial goals of college and university partners.

General information on Barnes & Noble Education, Inc. can be obtained by visiting the Company's corporate website:


Barnes & Noble Education, Inc.
Carolyn J. Brown, 908.991.2967
Vice President, Corporate Communications



Barnes & Noble Education, Inc.
Carolyn J. Brown, 908.991.2967
Vice President, Corporate Communications