It's graduation season and all across the country high school and college students are preparing to make a huge transition; some will begin a new academic career, others will head out into the job market. It’s a time of optimism and hope for recent graduates as they envision the next chapter in their lives — or it should be. But expectations and reality don’t always jibe, and the road for college graduates is much rockier than they could possibly imagine.
Recent surveys shows that more than four out of five graduating college seniors do not have jobs lined up. According to career-networking Website AfterCollege.com, students heading to their college graduation will be doing so without the security of a job in their future: 83 percent of upcoming graduates do not yet have a job, despite the fact that over 72 percent were actively hunting for one.
Even students who majored in fields widely touted as "hot" aren’t faring too well on the job front. Over 81 percent of students graduating with degrees in engineering, technology, or math have found themselves without employment. Business majors fared even worse with over 85 percent sending out resumes without success. These numbers are all down from 2013, when 16 percent of college graduates had jobs lined up; 2014 saw that number drop to 11 percent.
As if that wasn’t depressing enough, most soon to be college graduates have no idea the rough job market they’re about to face: In fact, the majority of college seniors are actually optimistic about their future careers. Only 18 percent of upcoming graduates believe they’ll earn $25,000 or less once they begin a job; in reality, over 41 percent of graduates are in that income range. 84 percent of students expect to find work in their chosen field. The sad truth is that only 67 percent of graduates manage to get jobs in the field they studied — and those that do are earning far less than they ever expected. Meanwhile, 46 percent of workers who graduated in the past two years feel that they are underemployed, a feeling only emphasized by the student debt weighing down on them. This number is up five percent from the previous year – a bad sign for students ready to don their caps and gowns.
So is there any good news for recent graduates? Well, two-thirds of students believe that their college educations fully prepared them for their careers (even if they’re having a hard time finding them). The same number insists that their college degree was essential to them securing a job, and without it the job hunt would have been even more dire. Over half of the students polled went on to say that their colleges and universities were a vital component to finding employment.
The bottom line is that college graduates are entering a difficult world. Things have changed in the four years since they received their acceptance letters; the economy has waxed and waned, as have the jobs available to graduates. College may seem like a heavy burden — years of hard work and studying, mountains of student debt, and at the end of the day no guarantee of a job. But the hard truth is that despite all that, college graduates still have a better chance of securing employment. And colleges are beefing up their career counseling to give students the best possible chance in a competitive and often unforgiving job market. So cheer up, graduating seniors: Things are bad, but they could definitely be worse.
[Pic via Flickr - Nazareth College]