If you, like a number of my students, are graduating from college in the upcoming months, you’re not going to like this post. An Associated Press analysis of government data reports that half of college graduates are either jobless or are underemployed, holding positions as retail clerks or waitresses that do not require a college degree.
Students who major in the sciences, education and health fields generally fare better in the job market, although one of those interviewed by the Associated Press, Kelman Edwards, was a biology major but, after searching for work in that area for five months, was only able to find a job in construction. Edwards says that he had thought his major was a “gold ticket” for getting him jobs; he is about $5,500 in debt, a significant sum but actually much less than is the case for a number of my students.
Debt from student loans — now totaling more than $1 trillion — is one of the main factors many graduating seniors are wary of applying to graduate school, however much they think, or they are told, a Master’s or additional degree might enhance their career prospects.
Humanities Majors Least Likely To Find Jobs Related To Their Education
Students majoring in zoology, anthropology, philosophy, art history and humanities were the least likely to find jobs appropriate to their education. Those who studied nursing, teaching, accounting or computer science degrees were the most likely. In general, undergraduates who majored in the arts and humanities have had the greatest challenge finding positions in their fields, a finding again borne out by my own experience. I have very, very few students who major in my academic discipline, Classics. All three who did in the past seven years have become teachers, with only one so far now holding a full-time job teaching position.
The Associated Press‘s analysis also describes how technological changes since 2000 have eliminated, and will eliminate still more, midlevel jobs such as bank tellers. “Lower-skilled” positions such as that of home health care aide, positions in the fast food industry and truck driving — all of which are not as easily replaced by computers — are where most of the future job openings will be.
Are Colleges and Universities Failing to Prepare Students For Future Jobs?
Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University who analyzed the data, says bluntly that “we’re failing kids coming out of college.” Harvard economist Richard Freeman even discounts what has been held as common knowledge, that going to college means you will make more money on average.
Photo by Rennett Stowe
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