Graduating from college once symbolized entering The Real World—and not the one that’s captured by cameras to air on MTV. Graduation meant finally earning that coveted degree, which (hopefully) came with a good-paying job, a new apartment, and a lifetime of success and happiness.
Even if you’re not in college at the moment, you’re probably aware that things aren’t looking that rosy for the class of 2011.
Despite being saddled with immense student loan debt, many new graduates are “going into the red” even further to pursue advanced degrees in hopes of improving their chances at a job, while most of the others are moving back in with their parents.
Amanda M. Fairbanks of The Huffington Post spoke with Michael D. Hais and Morley Winograd, co-authors of the upcoming book Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation Is Remaking America, who described the number of college graduates moving back home as “historically unprecedented.”
On May 10, 2011 TIME reported that a recent poll conducted by consulting firm Twentysomething Inc. found roughly 85% of new graduates are planning to move back in with Mom and Dad. (For comparison, a 2006 MSNBC article put the number of college grads moving in with their parents at 40%.)
According to TIME, recent research has calculated the current unemployment rate for those under the age of 25 to be as high as 54%. Moving back home after graduation helps with both living expenses and paying off student loans, which—as the U.S. Department of Education’s website points out— typically enter the repayment phase six months after graduation.
“Graduates are not the first to be hired when the job market begins to improve. We’re seeing shocking numbers of people with undergraduate degrees who can’t get work,” Rick Raymond of the College Parents of America told TIME.
InsideVandy, Vanderbilt University’s student news source, reported that the overall U.S. unemployment rate is 9.3 percent. Germain Boer, a professor of accounting at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management and director of the Owen Entrepreneurship Center, pointed out that the high unemployment rate means many new college grads will have to take on jobs they may not necessarily love.
Boer suggests that hard work, perseverance and the right attitude can help college graduates make the most of lesser-paying jobs they may be forced to take. “If you take a job that’s not what you wanted, but you do it better than anybody else, the company’s probably going to notice and start moving you up. So you can make a job into a good opportunity, even though it’s not what you wanted,” he explained.
The New York Post covered the topic of new college grads struggling to make ends meet on May 9, 2011.
Madison Grieco graduated in January 2011. She earned a bachelor of music from Berklee College of Music in Boston, with an emphasis in business courses taken at Columbia and Harvard. She is seeking a career in music publishing, applying for five to ten jobs every day, but works as an unpaid intern for a Manhattan record company and resells concert tickets online to pay her rent and buy food.
Alex Hoffman graduated from Vanderbilt University in May 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in human and organizational development. He began running his own college services company, but is packing up his belongings to move to New York in hopes of finding a higher-paying job because running his own business comes with a major drawback: “I don’t make enough to pay off my college loans.”
The Christian Science Monitor understands that finding a job is harder than ever, especially considering that roughly 2 million students will be graduating from college in 2011, but urges new grads to realize that gaining employment is work in itself. Many graduating seniors mistakenly believe that landing a job is the responsibility of their career service officers, but job-seeking college grads must make job hunting their full-time job.
The Temple University class of 2011 got some advice from Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s Hardball and America’s most popular TV dad, Bill Cosby. According to the The Republic, Matthews urged graduates to “Network like a bandit!” during his commencement speech. “Don’t email. Don’t phone. Show up. Resumes are flat and boring and they’re all the same.”
Cosby, a Temple alumnus who often speaks at the school’s graduation ceremonies, got a laugh from the audience when he told the new grads that they shouldn’t mooch off of their parents if they move back home: “This is not their dream. Six years ago, the government took their retirement money. They’re seriously broke.”
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.