Prospective students are asking an important question: how well will this college prepare me for, or place me into, a career that meets my goals?

In a recent Washington Post article, higher education columnist and author Jeffrey Selingo said, “College freshmen now regularly say the No. 1 reason to attend college is to ‘get a better job,’ according to a major annual survey of incoming students conducted by UCLA.”

But students are saying their institutions aren’t making the grade.

The Perception

Fresh research from Gallup and Purdue University suggests that students nationwide are overwhelmingly disappointed with their schools’ career services programs. Only 17 percent of students surveyed said their career services office was very helpful.

This chart from The Atlantic breaks down the numbers, which don’t fare well in higher education’s favor.

Now, whether or not students are truly engaging with the career services offered (how can I be unhappy with a place I never really visited?) is another topic of discussion. It’s obvious that many schools’ career services offices have robust programs. Many have delivered incredible outcomes, too.

But perception is reality – and many students just aren’t seeing the value.

The Opportunity

On the bright side, this negative perception allows schools with outstanding career services programs the opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

My suggestion? Interview students who have landed dream careers. Turn stories of career services offices’ impact into content that transforms interested students/parents into applications.

Cementing stories of success into marketing efforts and campus tours will appeal to prospects’ needs and help successful higher ed brands stand out in a crowd (and the rankings).