College grads have unrealistic outlook of today’s job market

STORY BY Stephanie Wharton

Published: May 8, 2013

Exactly three years ago, I was among the thousands of students preparing to graduate from college and enter the great American workforce. At first, I was hopeful. I knew I’d quickly find a cool job, pay off my student loans in no time and live a fabulous life in a big city. Those visions of grandeur ended approximately three weeks after graduation, and I ended up leaving the east coast to move to Ohio about two months later.

My expectations became reality in a matter of weeks. And sadly enough, it seems as if another round of young hopefuls are experiencing it this spring. A recent survey conducted by Accenture found that only 32% percent of pending 2013 graduates plan to live at home after graduation, while 44% of 2011 and 2012 graduates currently live at home.

The new graduates’ pay expectations also are out of line with today’s market: 15% expect to earn less than $25,000 a year. Meanwhile, one-third of 2011 and 2012 college graduates who are employed reported their salary is $25,000 or less.

And if that wasn’t enough, 41% of workers who graduated in 2011 and 2012 reported they are underemployed and working in jobs that do not require their college degrees. 

It’s unfortunate that many college graduates have grown up hearing not to worry about the job market, that they’ll make it as long as they have their degrees. That’s not the case anymore, and the ethical thing for colleges to do would be to provide realistic outlooks and career/life coaching to their pending graduates. Making $25,000 a year and having to pay back student loans is tough, but it’s not impossible. Colleges can certainly do a better job at teaching students how to prepare for it.

I consider myself lucky. Although I dreaded giving up my idea of the perfect post-grad life, things worked out nicely for me in Ohio. I found a great job in my field of study … and somehow, I’ve managed to make it back to the big city. My life is hardly fabulous and I am nowhere near paying off those student loans, but I can’t complain.

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