Watching the kids go off to college is a rite of passage that’s expected and welcomed by most parents, and watching the kids move back home after college is quickly becoming nearly as common.
Nicknamed the “boomerang generation” for returning to the place that they left, more and more young adults are moving in with their parents after being on their own for some time.
In the past, graduating from college meant getting your first “real” job and living on your own. These days, it seems that going away to college gives young adults a break from living with Mom and Dad—moving back in them has become almost expected and somewhat trendy.
Mallory Jaroski is 22 years old. She graduated from Penn State University in May but has been living at home with her mother while looking for a job in press relations. “It’s not bad living with my mom, but I feel like a little kid. I have a little bed, a little room,” she says in a CNN Money article. She thought she’d live with her mother for the summer, but like many others, she’s found her stay becoming significantly longer.
Jessie Sawyer, 23, graduated in May 2009 and moved back home with her parents during her job search. She has since been hired as a local editor of a news site, but has yet to move out of her parents’ home. Her reason? “I’m trying to save up to move out,” she said. But "the new job is 10 minutes from where I live so it’s convenient.”
CNN Money reports that a recent poll conducted by Philadelphia-based marketing and research firm Twentysomething Inc. found that 85% of college seniors planned to move back home with their parents after their May 2010 college graduation. Only 67% of college seniors were planning to do the same in 2006.
David Morrison, managing director and founder of Twentysomething, says “There’s almost an expectation that kids will move back home, there is no stigma attached. The thought now is to move home for 6-12 months but in reality those young adults will be home for a year and a half or longer. Even if they have jobs, they are living at home.”
The economy is the number one reason college graduates cite for shacking up with their parents.
According to a December 13, 2010 New York Times editorial, the unemployment rate for college graduates under the age of 25 has averaged 9.2 percent, up from 8.8 percent one year earlier and 5.8 percent in the first year of the recession that began in December 2007. These figures mean that recent college grads have about the same level of unemployment as the general population—jobs are becoming harder and harder to find.
The business website Business Insider reports that in 2008, there were 17 million underemployed college graduates in the United States. There are currently about two million recent college graduates that are unemployed, and starting salaries for the college graduates lucky enough to find jobs were down in 2010.
Jason Eckert, the Director of Career Services at the University of Dayton, said he’s noticed a significant increase in the number of students talking about living with their parents after graduation. “Living with mom or dad after graduation has lost that stigma,” he said in a Dayton Daily News article. “And parents are more likely than previous generations to welcome their students home.”
Eckert says that moving back home to save up a nest egg is a very viable economic strategy, but certain challenges come along with the situation. Parents that were expecting an empty nest will have to get used to having a “child” at home again, and some boomerang kids use living at home as an excuse to avoid growing up.
Clear communication of everyone’s expectations is the key to success when an adult child moves back in with Mom and Dad, says Gail Parent, co-author of How to Raise Your Adult Children: Because Big Kids Have Even Bigger Problems.
“Kids seem to think they have a while to get started. They seem to think it’s like some sort of vacation,” she told the Dayton Daily News. “Parents should be encouraging their kids to grow up and have responsibilities,” she said.
Her advice to the boomerang generation? The tough economy just means young adults might have to get multiple roommates or take a non-ideal job just for the money. “You may not get a job in your chosen career right away.”
Things may be looking up, at least according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE.) NACE’s 2010 Student Survey found that nearly one-quarter of 2010 graduates who applied for a job had one waiting for them after graduation. In comparison, just 19.7 percent of 2009 graduates who applied for a job had one at this time last year. Moving back home may be temporary after all!
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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