Students Believe They Will Earn Less Money Than Their Parents

Researchers at the John J. Heldrich Center For Workforce Development at Rutgers University found that new college graduates' attitudes towards career choices and college have been affected by the recent economic uncertainty. Most graduates expressed doubts about the ability of college placement offices to assist students. Additionally, a large number admitted they would have done something different to increase their chances of employment.

By Bobby Mann


Is College Necessary For Employment and Success in the Current Economic Environment?

For many recent college graduates, the answer is yes. When polled on this issue, almost 75% of new college graduates said that they did not question the decision to attend college. Furthermore, many grads stated that a college degree is just as important now as it was when they first enrolled. This admission comes with some strings attached, however. Many graduates were critical of the schools they attended for not adequately preparing them for employment after graduation.

Specifically, a majority of the blame was laid at the feet of college placement offices. Recent college graduates stated that their college placement office did not do an adequate enough job in preparing them for the job hunt. This sentiment is expressed equally by private- and public-university graduates. In regards to looking for a full-time job, researchers asked how well their school had prepared them. The categories given were extremely well, pretty well, not very well, not well at all and refused. A majority, 58%, reported not very well and not well at all, while 42% reported extremely well and pretty well.

A Different Approach

New graduates aren't busy pointing the finger at colleges and universities for their performance in the dismal jobs market. Many of them admitted to the Heldrich researchers that they would have done something different while enrolled to increase their chances of employment. Some of the areas in which respondents were polled included internships, college major, looking for work sooner and selecting a different college or university.

Many new graduates admitted to the Heldrich researchers that they should have been more proactive in seeking out internships or working part-time and also been more careful about selecting a major or choosing a different major. To a lesser extent, graduates admitted that they wish they would've looked for work sooner or taken more classes. Only 14% of respondents stated that they would have chosen a different college or university, and an even smaller number, four percent, stated that they would not have gone to college.

The Burden of Debt

The decision to not do something extraordinary weighs heavily on new graduates in the context of debt. The Heldrich report states that 42% of all graduates carry some financial debt in addition to what they already owe for mortgage or rent and student loans. A confluence of non-decisions and the current economic climate has forced many graduates to lean on their parents for financial support. The majority of the graduates receiving support are between the ages of 22 and 25.

Rather unsurprisingly, this has contributed to expectations in regards to graduates' own future financial success when compared to their parents. A slight majority, 51%, believe that they will earn less than their parents or the same as their parents. Whether this belief will hold true depends largely on how quickly the U.S. can pull itself out of the current economic downturn. In the meantime, however, the impact of the recession is likely to deepen already existing attitudes new graduates have towards college placement services and career choices.

Considering borrowing to finance your grad school education? Learn how subsidized loans have been affected by the recent debt ceiling compromise.

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