As the American public has lost confidence in higher education over the past few years, policymakers have begun talking more about return on investment. In the simplest terms, they say that graduates who invest time and money pursuing a college education should see an earnings bump from their degrees.

In a recent report from the Strada Institute for the Future of Work and the Burning Glass Institute, researchers have attempted to push the conversation beyond earnings by looking at the kinds of jobs graduates are getting.

They issued a big finding: 52% of graduates with only a bachelor’s degree end up underemployed a year after getting their diploma — that is, they work in jobs that don’t typically require a college degree. Ten years on, that number only drops to 45%.

Other researchers have said that number seems higher than they would expect. However, focusing on what type of jobs students expect to have — and not just how much they will earn — may offer colleges new insight into how to meet those expectations.

For instance, researchers recommend that policymakers and colleges invest in quality career counseling and increase the transparency around which occupations students end up in.

In addition, they say, colleges should encourage students to have a paid internships, which the report says can significantly lessen their chances of underemployment. Colleges should also do their best to open fields of study that lead to college-level jobs, such as by removing restrictions like minimum grade requirements and “weed-out” courses.

Researchers used a variety of data sources for their analysis, including job posting and career history data from the market analytics firm Lightcast.

To determine if an occupation is “college-level,” they used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showing the most common degree level of jobholders and common entry-level requirements, as well as data from Lightcast.

“You don’t get the nuance just looking at earnings that you do looking at occupations,” said Andrew Hanson, senior director of research at Strada Education Foundation.

Read the full article about underemployment by Lilah Burke at Education Dive.