College and Post- Recession Times

By Tyreaze Foster

Within the coming weeks, thousands of students will be graduating and taking part in the turning of the tassel ceremony, from left to right.

For many this symbolizes one’s transition from student to graduate which means entrance into the stressful lifestyle of adulthood. Soon after this achievement, reality sets in, and the search for a job becomes a quest that many will consider to be the equivalent to Frodo’s journey in “Lord of the Rings.”  Also, for many Americans this means their first payment of their student loans are due–the average payment is close to $400, according to the Gallup-Purdue Index 2015 Report. This means there will be at least a decade of payments ahead for them. The years after college will be just as stressful as the four they spent working on the freshly-printed cardstock.

Many students may ask questions such as “Were those four years of partying, late night cram sessions, and stressful assignments worth it?” Many graduates will question their investment, due to finishing their higher education with an average debt of $30,000. These findings are from the Gallup-Purdue Index, which takes an in-depth look at the relationship between student debt and the experience and perceptions of college worth. These reports examine and answer important questions such as “Do college graduates think that their education was worth the cost?” Or “Do students graduate well equipped to find good jobs and prosper financially?” These are the questions that leave students baffled and in a daze once graduation is approaching.

Almost two-thirds of the 30,000 recent college graduates interviewed have taken out some form of a student loan. With loans there comes the responsibility of repayment, and many millennials will struggle to a find job in a market place that is recovering. When it comes to searching, many of these millennial graduates will be competing in a job market that only offers a limited opportunity, which includes internships, entry-level jobs, or accepting careers with lower incomes.

With the rise of internships, for many, either being pre-graduate or post-graduate ushers in this option of unpaid work. Originally, the function of an internship was to serve as an apprentice to have hands-on job experience. Many companies have replaced this once-considered entry-level job with the opportunity for college credit. This model has replaced the internships of the past where an entry-level income was offered.  Justin Grant, a 2015 AUM graduate said, “Transitioning from the collegiate educational world into the professional world is such a drastic change, especially when you have knowledge about a field but don’t have work experience.“

Then there is the entry-level position most companies offer to many graduates. These often require having a bachelor’s degree in a related field, relevant campus work experience and potential, and an internship or two that show you are more experienced than the competition. Also, many companies are looking for a résumé that will match the responsibilities required at the job. This means the pay of this particular career will be enough to cover the required payments needed, but might delay graduates from making large purchases that could benefit them in the future. Consequently, a lot of graduates will not be moving into a large house or driving a luxury car. These dream ideas of finding a good level job right after college like in the past are over. The job market is more cutthroat and many will experience the paradox of needing experience in order to get a job but need a job to get experience.

This is one of the most difficult things about a graduate in a job market that is stacked against them. Numerous college graduates are faced with a question on their mind: was college worth it?  This leaves many college graduates to postpone further training or post-graduate education because of their student loans.

“The search for a job has been tough, especially in my field of study,” AUM graduate Brandon Kennedy said. “I remember when everyone told me that it would be tough but never thought it would be almost a year.” His story resonates with other former students that are still searching for a job today. For many, the college degree seems to signal that they are disciplined to finish what they started. According to Gallup-Purdue, only a little more than half of those students who launch down the path toward a bachelor’s degree end up earning one.

There was a time when students graduating would have landed in solid middle-class jobs without a degree. The answer to the simple question of whether a college degree is worth anything is certainly more opinion-based today. A college education is no longer a guarantee for a good life, unlike in the past. Plenty of students are following the advice of their parents and counselors by getting a degree, and still failing to successfully launch into the job market of this new economy.

With graduation season soon approaching, many have already started asking themselves these questions and have begun thinking about what their future will hold after college ends. The search for jobs will begin, and the market will be flooded with college graduates, many of whom might have to settle when it comes to finding the occupation they want. So with faith and hard work, searching for a job will not be easy, but it will be well worth it.