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) -- Are U.S. colleges and universities doing a lousy job preparing graduates for the real world?

Maybe so.

An eye-opening

University of Phoenix


says that only 35% of college graduates believe what they learned in college is applicable to their current jobs. That means about two-thirds of college grads have presumably spent tens of thousands of dollars (or more) on college training that's doing them little good.

Recent grads already face an uphill climb in the working world -- 36% of this year's crop are expected to work in professions that

don't require a degree


But to realize that maybe, just maybe, you were poorly trained to handle the job you paid a college to train you for -- that's tough to take.

Also see: Employers: Entry-Level Applicants Are Just About Useless>>

"As the skills gap and challenging economy continue to affect the abilities of employers to fill jobs and workers to find suitable employment, emphasis has been placed on more closely aligning college education with the needs of employers," the survey says.

But that emphasis isn't hitting the mark.

According to the survey, only 25% of respondents say a college education is a an appropriate training program for "employment in the workforce." Only 10% say that colleges are "very effective" at training their graduates for the working world.

Then there's those 35% of recent college grads who believe that all or most of what they learned at school is applicable to their jobs today. A little more than half -- 51% -- say some of what they learned on campus comes in handy in the workplace, while 13% say "none" of what they learned in college is applicable in their daily jobs.

Also see: How Long Is Too Long for the 36% of Grads Back at Home?>>

The online survey of more than 1,600 U.S. employed adults was conducted in April by

Harris Interactive

on behalf of the for-profit university.

"The survey suggests the need for higher education to adapt to the needs of the market and prepare students for specific jobs and careers," says Sam Sanders, chairman for University of Phoenix School of Business. "There is significant progress being made in America to tie curriculum to careers earlier in a student's education, but there is still a lot of work to be done to prepare college graduates for specific careers and grow a more competitive workforce."

At a time college graduates really need training that is tailored specifically to their career choice, the survey suggests the citadels of higher education are falling short. Coupled with the rising rate of

student debt

, that should be on the mind of every academic in America.