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dereksurfs

Why are so many College Graduates still Underemployment / Underpaid?

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Forgive my aged brain, but I'm still not understanding what this is a percentage of?  

 

Is this one line claiming that of all the low wage jobs in the US economy, 13% are now held by recent college graduates?  Without knowing how many total (or relative) low wages jobs there are in the economy, seems like this percentage doesn't mean much.

 

No, the percentage represents the portion (share) of the college graduates working low wage jobs: in this case recent college graduates. So, 13% of recent graduates are working low wage jobs. That number is up from 8.6% of that same group over time.

 

The title helps clarify this for me - "Share of Underemployed Graduates in Good Non-College and Low-Wage Jobs."

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What exactly this chart is measuring is difficult to decipher.  I think it is supposed to be the percent of recent college graduates who are in low wage jobs (<$25K).  I have looked at the source data and it still isn't very clear.  However, the source data has the 25th percentile salary for recent college graduates slightly above $30,000.  (which would seem consistent with interpreting this as the bottom 13% are earning <$25K.)

 

One thing that isn't clear, that would have a large impact on the interpretation is if the $25K figure is adjusted for inflation.  One of the Excel sheets has a notation about CPI, but I could not see where it was used.  

 

Yes, I was wondering that myself. Its hard to imagine 'not' adjusting for inflation since the value of a dollar was so much different in 1990 than it is today. 

 

Another large factor to consider is the relative value of a dollar in relation to cost of education in America then vs. now. Student debt has definitely ballooned which impacts the recent college grad's net take home pay. Six figure debt has become all too common. There are many articles discussing what its like to be living under six figure debt as a young grad. http://thefinancialdiet.com/6-people-really-like-live-six-figures-student-debt/

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That's why its even more important to specialize if going into IT. Simply aiming for a generalist job as a programmer will become more difficult. That's why its good to get cross-trained in other areas. This included industry specific niches or in specializations across industries such as cyber security, robotics, autonomous systems, data science, human factors, R&D, DBA, etc... There are aspects of US companies' mission critical assets and intellectual property that will remain state side.

 

Offshoring more generic technical positions has been a problem for quite some time now.

Yes, for kids who are interested in working for government contracts in computer science this could be the option. This is a very small chunk of the overall economy.

 

I can’t imagine any scenario that could make my children interested in such a job though. I have very different children. :)

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Yes, for kids who are interested in working for government contracts in computer science this could be the option. This is a very small chunk of the overall economy.

 

I can’t imagine any scenario that could make my children interested in such a job though. I have very different children. :)

 

I don't think its just Gov't contracts. Otherwise there would be no point in working in the Silicon Valley at all. Facebook, Google, Intel, Oracle, Apple, etc... would have no need for employees in the US. Folks have been talking about that change for decades. But it hasn't happened. There is certainly offshoring and international companies have employees all over the world. But there are more specialized positions which will remain here for the long haul, IMO. There are many challenges in managing remote team overseas. The backlash has actually caused some companies to re-evaluate the number of such teams. Check back in 10 years and I don't think things will have changed that much in terms of all of these tech jobs moving overseas.

Edited by dereksurfs
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I don't think its just Gov't contracts. Otherwise there would be no point in working in the Silicon Valley at all. Facebook, Google, Intel, Oracle, Apple, etc... would have no need for employees in the US. Folks have been talking about that change for decades. But it hasn't happened. There is certainly offshoring and international companies have employees all over the world. But there are more specialized positions which will remain here for the long haul, IMO. There are many challenges in managing remote team overseas. The backlash has actually caused some companies to re-evaluate the number of such teams. Check back in 10 years and I don't think things will have changed that much in terms of all of these tech jobs moving overseas.

We aren’t talking in absolutes here. Of course there will be jobs. Of course not all jobs go overseas and of course not all jobs here will be taken by immigrants. I think the question is in degrees.

I don’t think that we will see jobs completely disappear (maybe few will), but if you had to hire 100 people to do the job, maybe then you will only need 50 and 10 of those will be overseas. I think that scenario is more likely and also painful for the future of employment. You can still point to the 40 as evidence that jobs are here, and they are, but that’s 60 less. I hope I am making sense.

 

Again, I think not everybody wants to work in computers. My children don’t.

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We aren’t talking in absolutes here. Of course there will be jobs. Of course not all jobs go overseas and of course not all jobs here will be taken by immigrants. I think the question is in degrees.

I don’t think that we will see jobs completely disappear (maybe few will), but if you had to hire 100 people to do the job, maybe then you will only need 50 and 10 of those will be overseas. I think that scenario is more likely and also painful for the future of employment. You can still point to the 40 as evidence that jobs are here, and they are, but that’s 60 less. I hope I am making sense.

 

Again, I think not everybody wants to work in computers. My children don’t.

 

Yes, I think there will be some redistribution. The Silicon Valley as well as other up and coming epicenters for advancements in technology and startups will continue to thrive. However, other counties are innovating as well, obviously. In addition, telecommuting is becoming more common. Add to that the unsustainable COL in places like San Jose and folks will move to other more affordable locations nationally with some international movement as well.

 

To your point about tech, yes,  not everyone wants to work in computers. I don't think either of our daughter have any interest in it as a profession. But it will still be an aspect of most modern careers regardless of major. Most white collar, professional jobs will require some degree of proficiency with computers, relevant programs, the understanding of how they work and sometimes the ability to customize those programs. I would say the same thing is true with regards to liberal arts training. While engineers won't want to major in literature, poetry, psychology, sociology and the like, its still important for them to have a good handle on human nature, technical writing and other such skills. kwim?

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I have a daughter who just graduated (with one of those degrees which, while intellectually stimulating, does not lead to an obvious job) who is in this situation, and is doing an Americorps position for a year. Enjoyable work, but won't pay the bills (her husband's union job as a truck driver will do that.)

 

In her case, and I don't think this is uncommon now, one issue was that she really did not have much work experience when she graduated, of any kind. She put in a few hours a week in high school as a skate instructor, did a little baby sitting, spent one summer as a motel housekeeper. As I have shared, she ended up with health issues that somewhat limited taking on too much extra during the last couple years of college, though she did do a few hours a week of volunteer work with an organization serving refugees and a local church group.

 

The university probably had resources for the job hunt for go-getter kids who sought out the services, but that was not my daughter. She really did not experience much in the way of advice as far as "what next?", and it was somewhat overwhelming trying to figure out where to look.

 

I see a few years of low wages while she figures this out. We have taken on her student loans.

 

 

 

 

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Student debt has definitely ballooned which impacts the recent college grad's net take home pay. Six figure debt has become all too common. There are many articles discussing what its like to be living under six figure debt as a young grad. http://thefinancialdiet.com/6-people-really-like-live-six-figures-student-debt/

This is your typical example of where sensationalism is news and where parents are culpable (and my sympathy factor plummets.)

 

Federal student loans are capped for UGs. $5500 freshman yr, $6500 sophomore yr, $7500 jr and sr. Without consigners, UGs by themselves are not able to take out 6 figures in loans. (Grad and professional school is a different discussion.)

 

The American hype over "dream school" and "needing intellectual fit" is tossed around in hysteria as if it is "the defining truth" in college selection. The posts on CC are sometimes mind-boggling. Parents willing to lose their homes or sacrifice retirement bc little Johnnie couldn't possibly be successful at a common public U bc they worked so hard in high school or they are just too intelligent to find peers in such lowly places.....The fact is that those are choices. Parents can make the decision to not get on board that train and simply say, "no." And, no, little Johnie's future will not be destroyed, and neither will the parents and Johnie face crippling debt for propagandized "only elites can possibly educate top students." (It is a completely different thing to choose schools when a family can afford the decision vs. crippling debt.)

 

I think that is one of the biggest differences from the 80s and 90s. Before the internet, most students applied to their instate schools and there wasn't mass hysteria about college selection (and admissions percentages were not what they are today.) it is amazing that anyone from our generation is successful. ;)

 

  

But it will still be an aspect of most modern careers regardless of major. Most white collar, professional jobs will require some degree of proficiency with computers, relevant programs, the understanding of how they work and sometimes the ability to customize those programs.

I am not sure I really understand the nature of this discussion. Obviously most careers are going to require computer skills. It is hard to imagine one that doesn't. But, that essential skill and computer programming degrees are really distinct conversations. My older kids all spend a lot of time on the computer for their jobs, even my occupational therapy assistant Dd. (All of her patient notes, insurance claims, etc are filed digitally and that takes a large percentage of day.) It doesn't mean they ever came close to a computer programming major or minor. The necessary skills are incorporated into their degrees or they learn it elsewhere in the process of what they are doing.

 

My physics ds programs in multiple languages and spends almost all of his time for his research programming and running data. He has never taken computer programming courses outside of his research program. His research program taught them basic programming skills and then they were expected to pick up other languages as needed. My business majoring Dd has to take courses on using software like Excel, etc. She isn't writing programs, but has to know how to use software.

 

I think this is a side conversation that really isn't that helpful bc schools and students already know that they need to be tech savvy. That is different from building a career on being a programmer/computer tech oriented professional bc almost all careers require usable tech knowledge.

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I don't think its just Gov't contracts. Otherwise there would be no point in working in the Silicon Valley at all. Facebook, Google, Intel, Oracle, Apple, etc... would have no need for employees in the US. Folks have been talking about that change for decades. But it hasn't happened. There is certainly offshoring and international companies have employees all over the world. But there are more specialized positions which will remain here for the long haul, IMO. There are many challenges in managing remote team overseas. The backlash has actually caused some companies to re-evaluate the number of such teams. Check back in 10 years and I don't think things will have changed that much in terms of all of these tech jobs moving overseas.

Yes these companies are not so naive to think that if critical work is performed directly in China, India, etc that it won't end up in a competitors hand. 

Money talks. Saving a little on salaries for high tech firms is penny-wise pound-foolish.

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Sorry, I probably should have shared the link. It's easier to see when scrolling the chart and then reading the description provided. 

 https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/college-labor-market/college-labor-market_underemployment_jobtypes.html

 

Basically, it's showing that low wage jobs (< $25k) have increased from 8.6% to 13% (peaked at 15% in 2010) for recent college graduates. 

 

In addition, good, non-college degree required jobs (>$45k) have decreased from 47.8% to 35% for these same recent graduates.

 

So, recent college grads are being squeezed from both sides of the spectrum financially when entering the workplace. In addition, inflation compounds the wage gap. That is, unless they've adjusted for it. 

 

I went to the link and it really isn't any clearer.  Based upon what you are saying, I still don't really see a problem from these stats.  My guesstimate was correct that there are 4.4/100 more graduates are in low wage jobs.  With the push to send everyone to college, this just doesn't surprise me.  It's still a very small percentage that most would shudder about if it were an acceptance rate into the college.

 

And non-degree related jobs decreasing for college grads... don't most go to college planning to use their degree in some form or another?  I'd want to see those stats - good jobs for graduates where a degree is required - before claiming the sky is falling.  (The sky may be falling - see my previous post about there being fewer jobs - but this bit of data doesn't give me anything to go on.)

 

What exactly this chart is measuring is difficult to decipher.  I think it is supposed to be the percent of recent college graduates who are in low wage jobs (<$25K).  I have looked at the source data and it still isn't very clear.  However, the source data has the 25th percentile salary for recent college graduates slightly above $30,000.  (which would seem consistent with interpreting this as the bottom 13% are earning <$25K.)

 

One thing that isn't clear, that would have a large impact on the interpretation is if the $25K figure is adjusted for inflation.  One of the Excel sheets has a notation about CPI, but I could not see where it was used.  

 

I didn't go to the source data, but I'm glad to know I'm not alone in thinking this chart is hard to figure out.

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Ugh. I had a long response typed out, and then my iPad was ornery.

 

Ds is home on break which has allowed me to catch up with what is going on with many of the high school friends, who are all college seniors. The main issue I am observing is a lack of direction/purpose. Some examples:

 

ChemE major at OOS 3rd-tier school - internship last summer located by high friend's mom. Related to chemistry (food research) but not engineering. Says she wants to take a "gap year," go to grad school later, no GRE taken. I think her grades are okay, but she doesn't want to stay local to her college. Returning to her hometown as she wishes means competing for jobs with those graduating from our local state flagship.

 

Bio major at in-state liberal arts college - desires med school but grades aren't good enough (been apparent for awhile). Knows he needs grad school to get those up and have a chance at that. No GRE taken. Plans to return home and live at home taking a "gap year" doing something (???) for a local MD who is a friend of his dad's.

 

Horticulture major - wants to go to grad school but take a "gap year" first. No definitive plans for what that looks like. No GRE taken.

 

History major at local flagship - parents want grad school, student wants to become a luthier. No GRE taken and no practical skill set in guitar-making to my knowledge.

 

International Relations major - graduated a year ago from OOS, sort of flagship. Job, but not in IR because she decided she hated it. Some administrative job at Parks & Rec department/agency in her college town. At one point, her goal was to own a bakery. Not sure if that's still being considered.

 

Business major at local flagship - finance internship at local company last summer. No return offer. Not sure what he's doing.

 

Two others I haven't heard about (history/anthropology major and history/Native American studies major) and one who changed majors and won't graduate in four years.

 

I have no issue with gap years that are purposeful and part of a larger, long-range plan. However, for most of these young adults they seem to find those words to be a sort of filler/fallback answer. Their parents are frustrated.

 

Out of the close-knit friend group, only ds and one other friend (computer Engineering major) have jobs lined up for after graduation. Both were return offers from internships in their fields from this past summer.

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ChemE major at OOS 3rd-tier school - internship last summer located by high friend's mom. Related to chemistry (food research) but not engineering. Says she wants to take a "gap year," go to grad school later, no GRE taken. I think her grades are okay, but she doesn't want to stay local to her college. Returning to her hometown as she wishes means competing for jobs with those graduating from our local state flagship.

 

Bio major at in-state liberal arts college - desires med school but grades aren't good enough (been apparent for awhile). Knows he needs grad school to get those up and have a chance at that. No GRE taken. Plans to return home and live at home taking a "gap year" doing something (???) for a local MD who is a friend of his dad's.

 

Horticulture major - wants to go to grad school but take a "gap year" first. No definitive plans for what that looks like. No GRE taken.

...

I have no issue with gap years that are purposeful and part of a larger, long-range plan. However, for most of these young adults they seem to find those words to be a sort of filler/fallback answer. Their parents are frustrated.

 

My view is a bit different. Students who take the GRE and go right into grad school after their graduation sometimes do that also because they have no plan and cannot think of anything else. It is the standard fallback options that requires no long range plan; it's the "safe" thing to do when you have no other idea.

If a student is not planning to apply to grad school this winter I see no reason why this student should have taken the GRE.

 

My DD has chosen not to go right into grad school, and we fully support her decision. Her school was a pressure cooker, and we feel she will greatly benefit from a year or two of not being in school to avoid burn out, and thinking about whether grad school actually fits into her long term plans. I see nothing wrong with a 21 year old taking a pause to step back and think about what she wants to do with her life. That can be particularly valuable for students with unusual qualifications where the future path is much less clear cut than for some other degrees and who have to chose between many different possibilities.

 

Btw, spending a year shadowing/interning with an MD is not all that unusual for students interested in going to med school.

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Ugh. I had a long response typed out, and then my iPad was ornery.

 

Ds is home on break which has allowed me to catch up with what is going on with many of the high school friends, who are all college seniors. The main issue I am observing is a lack of direction/purpose. Some examples:

 

ChemE major at OOS 3rd-tier school - internship last summer located by high friend's mom. Related to chemistry (food research) but not engineering. Says she wants to take a "gap year," go to grad school later, no GRE taken. I think her grades are okay, but she doesn't want to stay local to her college. Returning to her hometown as she wishes means competing for jobs with those graduating from our local state flagship.

 

Bio major at in-state liberal arts college - desires med school but grades aren't good enough (been apparent for awhile). Knows he needs grad school to get those up and have a chance at that. No GRE taken. Plans to return home and live at home taking a "gap year" doing something (???) for a local MD who is a friend of his dad's.

 

Horticulture major - wants to go to grad school but take a "gap year" first. No definitive plans for what that looks like. No GRE taken.

 

History major at local flagship - parents want grad school, student wants to become a luthier. No GRE taken and no practical skill set in guitar-making to my knowledge.

 

International Relations major - graduated a year ago from OOS, sort of flagship. Job, but not in IR because she decided she hated it. Some administrative job at Parks & Rec department/agency in her college town. At one point, her goal was to own a bakery. Not sure if that's still being considered.

 

Business major at local flagship - finance internship at local company last summer. No return offer. Not sure what he's doing.

 

Two others I haven't heard about (history/anthropology major and history/Native American studies major) and one who changed majors and won't graduate in four years.

 

I have no issue with gap years that are purposeful and part of a larger, long-range plan. However, for most of these young adults they seem to find those words to be a sort of filler/fallback answer. Their parents are frustrated.

 

Only ds and one high school friend (computer Engineering major) have jobs lined up for after graduation. Both were return offers from internships in their fields from this past summer.

Are these all rich kids? Because I see the equivalent here: everyone went to NYU and everyone is a "freelance artist" of a sort that I'm not sophisticated enough to understand.

I keep telling DS we aren't rich enough for that nonsense. We will fund a gap year but he better come home with another foreign language or a book contract 😂

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Are these all rich kids? Because I see the equivalent here: everyone went to NYU and everyone is a "freelance artist" of a sort that I'm not sophisticated enough to understand.

I keep telling DS we aren't rich enough for that nonsense. We will fund a gap year but he better come home with another foreign language or a book contract 

 

A gap year between undergrad and grad school does not mean the young adult sits on his butt in the parents' basement. It usually means working a job before embarking on the next stage of the education plan. It has nothing to do with being rich.

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A gap year between undergrad and grad school does not mean the young adult sits on his butt in the parents' basement. It usually means working a job before embarking on the next stage of the education plan. It has nothing to do with being rich.

I'm familiar with the definition. I was addressing hoggirl's post.

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I'm familiar with the definition. I was addressing hoggirl's post.

 

I understand that. I merely did not see from her post that these kids were planning to use the gap year to mooch off their parents.

 

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Btw, spending a year shadowing/interning with an MD is not all that unusual for students interested in going to med school.

 

The average (mean) age to enter med school is now 24 for men and 23 for women.  Considering my senior is just 22, it seems to me that many students take at least one gap year prior to med school.

 

Looking at the tables, the 25% is 23/22 (men/women) and the 75% is 26/25 which seems to support that thought.

 

I wonder what the stats are if you take out those few who get offers for automatic med school from their high school acceptance (only the highest achievers with a bit of experience).

 

At the med school sessions we've attended, it's been mentioned more than once that they like to see older and more mature/experienced students over those straight from college.  This matches the actual stats recorded, so I doubt they are lying.

 

https://www.aamc.org/download/321468/data/factstablea6.pdf

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I just started reading this report again (read it when it came out) and it is clearer than the chart. It is a 51 page pdf and has charts and data by college majors.

 

https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/media/research/staff_reports/sr749.pdf?la=en

“Underemployment in the Early Careers of College Graduates Following the Great Recession

Jason R. Abel and Richard Deitz

Federal Reserve Bank of New York Staff Reports, no. 749

December 2015; revised September 2016 JEL Classification: I23, J23, J24, J62

 

Abstract

Though labor market conditions steadily improved following the Great Recession, underemployment among recent college graduates continued to climb, reaching highs not seen since the early 1990s. In this paper, we take a closer look at the jobs held by underemployed college graduates in the early stages of their careers during the first few years after the Great Recession. Contrary to popular perception, we show that relatively few recent graduates were working in low-skilled service jobs, and that many of the underemployed worked in fairly well paid non-college jobs requiring some degree of knowledge and skill. We also find that the likelihood of being underemployed was lower for those with more quantitatively oriented and occupation-specific majors than it was for those with degrees in general fields. Moreover, our analysis suggests that underemployment is a temporary phase for many recent college graduates as they transition to better jobs after spending some time in the labor market, particularly those who start their careers in low-skilled service jobs.â€

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I just started reading this report again (read it when it came out) and it is clearer than the chart. It is a 51 page pdf and has charts and data by college majors.

 

https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/media/research/staff_reports/sr749.pdf?la=en

“Underemployment in the Early Careers of College Graduates Following the Great Recession

Jason R. Abel and Richard Deitz

Federal Reserve Bank of New York Staff Reports, no. 749

December 2015; revised September 2016 JEL Classification: I23, J23, J24, J62

 

Abstract

Though labor market conditions steadily improved following the Great Recession, underemployment among recent college graduates continued to climb, reaching highs not seen since the early 1990s. In this paper, we take a closer look at the jobs held by underemployed college graduates in the early stages of their careers during the first few years after the Great Recession. Contrary to popular perception, we show that relatively few recent graduates were working in low-skilled service jobs, and that many of the underemployed worked in fairly well paid non-college jobs requiring some degree of knowledge and skill. We also find that the likelihood of being underemployed was lower for those with more quantitatively oriented and occupation-specific majors than it was for those with degrees in general fields. Moreover, our analysis suggests that underemployment is a temporary phase for many recent college graduates as they transition to better jobs after spending some time in the labor market, particularly those who start their careers in low-skilled service jobs.â€

 

This makes a lot more sense.  Thanks for posting it!  Popular talk has oodles of college grads working in Wally World for their career.  I'm sure a few do, but certainly not the majority.

 

Personally, I don't really care if mine use their degree or not as long as they are happy with what they are doing and can sustain themselves from it, so whether they end up in a "college degree" job or not doesn't matter.  Mine went for the additional education and experience in a field they enjoyed.

 

It also makes sense that the recession hit graduates (and non-graduates), that it's improving, and that it's usually temporary.

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My theory is:

 

The "average starting salary" is calculated by determining entry salary levels for jobs related to a major, not necessarily taking into account the number of such jobs relative to the number of graduates with that major.  It may also be skewed by a few high earning niche positions that very few people with that major will actually land as a starting job.

 

 

People who could only find an hourly wage job are not included in the "starting salary" statistics, instead they are in the "earned" less than $25K statistics.  People who are unemployed after graduation may not even be being counted in the "earned" category, or perhaps they are.

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I've never been smart enough to multi-quote. :/

 

As far as taking the GRE goes, I think my friends (all the kids are friends, all the parents are friends) want their children to take it while they are in school, in test-taking/studying mode. No idea if that is smart or not. So, they are frustrated that they haven't checked off that box even if the plan is to delay grad school. Ds plans to take the GMAT before graduating. It would be a few years before he would apply to MBA programs (IF he chooses to ever do that), but he wants the test part taken care of. He has been advised to do that, but maybe the GRE is different.

 

I don't know how these young people will wind up spending their time, so I can't say to what extent they will "mooch" off their parents. Not sure how that word is defined, and the definition probably varies from person to person. Is providing health insurance, room & board, auto insurance, cell phone, etc., mooching? How much of that can be covered if a young person takes a low-paying job while they ponder next steps? To me, taking a year or two to sort out life plans while being subsidized by parents is a luxury. I'm not saying it's mooching, I'm not saying I wouldn't support it/do it. For this group, I wouldn't say their parents are "rich" (yet another word subject to varying definitions), but none of them are hurting. Most are professional people. The original question in the thread was about unemployment/underemployment. I listed out the friend group because I think many will fall under this category based on what I am hearing about near-future plans.

 

I was unaware that many students do not immediately start medical school and often shadow/intern for doctors for a year. Are they paid? What do they do?

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Thanks for posting this report, Arcadia. It definitely provides more details regarding the overall story of underemployment for current grads. The first sentence of the abstract is really what interests me.

 

"Though labor market conditions steadily improved following the Great Recession, underemployment among recent college graduates continued to climb, reaching highs not seen since the early 1990s." 

 

One of the most interesting charts is the Probability of Underemployment Among Recent College Graduates by Major.  While its no surprise that liberal arts topped the charts, I would think business would do better among other majors such as environmental science.

 

 

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This makes a lot more sense. Thanks for posting it! Popular talk has oodles of college grads working in Wally World for their career. I'm sure a few do, but certainly not the majority.

 

Personally, I don't really care if mine use their degree or not as long as they are happy with what they are doing and can sustain themselves from it, so whether they end up in a "college degree" job or not doesn't matter. Mine went for the additional education and experience in a field they enjoyed.

 

It also makes sense that the recession hit graduates (and non-graduates), that it's improving, and that it's usually temporary.

"Sustain" is the operative word to me. I think there is probably a lot of middle ground in between a salaried job and doing nothin in Mom and Dad's basement. There are many worthwhile things one can do in between those options, but I'm not sure one could support oneself completely.

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A gap year between undergrad and grad school does not mean the young adult sits on his butt in the parents' basement. It usually means working a job before embarking on the next stage of the education plan. It has nothing to do with being rich.

I would agree that this is a reasonable path for someone considering grad school.  Unfortunately,, the term "gap year", IME, has become a term used to make not attending school or working upon graduation sound sophisticated.  I have been shocked in the past year of how many college seniors I have heard say that they are going to take a gap year and when I ask them what they are going to do with that time there is no plan except to relax and have fun.  

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I would agree that this is a reasonable path for someone considering grad school. Unfortunately,, the term "gap year", IME, has become a term used to make not attending school or working upon graduation sound sophisticated. I have been shocked in the past year of how many college seniors I have heard say that they are going to take a gap year and when I ask them what they are going to do with that time there is no plan except to relax and have fun.

^this

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My theory is:

 

The "average starting salary" is calculated by determining entry salary levels for jobs related to a major, not necessarily taking into account the number of such jobs relative to the number of graduates with that major.  It may also be skewed by a few high earning niche positions that very few people with that major will actually land as a starting job.

 

 

People who could only find an hourly wage job are not included in the "starting salary" statistics, instead they are in the "earned" less than $25K statistics.  People who are unemployed after graduation may not even be being counted in the "earned" category, or perhaps they are.

 

Yes, I've often wondered this when looking at average starting salaries for given majors. These are numbers which many universities use in their marketing.

Do such statistics take into account those graduates who are unemployed and underemployed? Or are they only counting those who entered into a job which required a college degree of some kind.

Edited by dereksurfs

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I was unaware that many students do not immediately start medical school and often shadow/intern for doctors for a year. Are they paid? What do they do?

 

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2015/2/25/medical-applicants-time-off/

 

 

The remaining 60 percent were alumni who had taken at least one year off, opting to pursue projects such as a travel fellowship, a different graduate degree like a Master’s or Ph.D., a research project, a teaching or community service experience, or paid employment.

 

 

Pre-med tutors and advisers promote gap years to prospective doctors, saying alumni applicants can have an advantage in demonstrating to selection committees their readiness and dedication to the medical profession.

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I would agree that this is a reasonable path for someone considering grad school.  Unfortunately,, the term "gap year", IME, has become a term used to make not attending school or working upon graduation sound sophisticated.  I have been shocked in the past year of how many college seniors I have heard say that they are going to take a gap year and when I ask them what they are going to do with that time there is no plan except to relax and have fun. 

 

I have not encountered any college senior with such plans. All of my advisees plan to do something productive after graduation. However, that does not necessarily have to be entry into grad school. One of my current graduates is going to teach English in Russia on a Fulbright. Another is going to shadow in radiation medicine before applying to grad school in that field. One has a paid research internship before going to grad school. In some ways, these are all "gap" years to bridge the time between undergrad and grad school/long term employment in the field.

Edited by regentrude
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Thanks for linking that. Sorry. I was unclear. I meant specifically what does a person do if they choose to shadow or intern for a doctor. In a doctor's medical practice. What do they do in that situation? What are they qualified to do?

 

Form the article:

 

“I saw a lot of my classmates here having taken gap years before or during college careers...grow as individuals,†Topkar said. “Having unstructured free time to help yourself grow as a person...was the main draw for me.â€

 

^To me, that's a luxury.

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I am not sure I really understand the nature of this discussion. Obviously most careers are going to require computer skills. It is hard to imagine one that doesn't. But, that essential skill and computer programming degrees are really distinct conversations. My older kids all spend a lot of time on the computer for their jobs, even my occupational therapy assistant Dd. (All of her patient notes, insurance claims, etc are filed digitally and that takes a large percentage of day.) It doesn't mean they ever came close to a computer programming major or minor. The necessary skills are incorporated into their degrees or they learn it elsewhere in the process of what they are doing.

 

My physics ds programs in multiple languages and spends almost all of his time for his research programming and running data. He has never taken computer programming courses outside of his research program. His research program taught them basic programming skills and then they were expected to pick up other languages as needed. My business majoring Dd has to take courses on using software like Excel, etc. She isn't writing programs, but has to know how to use software.

 

I think this is a side conversation that really isn't that helpful bc schools and students already know that they need to be tech savvy. That is different from building a career on being a programmer/computer tech oriented professional bc almost all careers require usable tech knowledge.

 

Yes, it could be a different thread. So I won't comment much more than answer what seems to be a question. The reason I bring it up is that I've seen quite a few cases where I work that it would have really helped if those 'other' majors would have taken at least one programming class while in school. I get that not everyone plans to program nor do they envision working along side others who do. But as we all know plans shift after graduation. Quite a few of those other majors who cannot find a job initially wind up working for a tech company at some point in their career. Some are even required to program or at least understand the systems development life cycle (SDLC) which they invariably support. The lack of any formal training can still work out. But some basic background in computer logic can help provide a frame of reference to start from. Otherwise they can wind up with a dear in the headlights situation similar to landing on a foreign planet for the first time.

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 I meant specifically what does a person do if they choose to shadow or intern for a doctor. In a doctor's medical practice. What do they do in that situation? What are they qualified to do?

 

see for example here:

http://www.uwmedicine.org/education/md-program/admissions/applicants/shadowing

 

"Shadowing means specifically observing the physician-patient interaction.

By observing physicians at work, applicants can see how physicians deliver bad news or deal with difficult patients. Applicants will also develop a more realistic understanding of what medicine can and can't do..... Shadowing in the U.S. is an opportunity for prospective physicians to witness firsthand what they are getting into.

The UW School of Medicine recommends that applicants shadow for at least 40 hours in the U.S.

The 40 hours do not have to be with one physician or all in one week. In fact, shadowing multiple physicians over several months to years will give applicants an opportunity to explore not only different medical fields, but also to compare different practice settings and different physician styles. "

 

Many of my premed students also work in medical jobs before applying to grad school. Quite a few scribe in the ER. Some do medical research with a doctor in that doctor's practice. I had a student who worked for the local dermatologist and got her research published in peer reviewed journals.

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I tend to think of gap years as “fun years,†when one goes to explore the world with friends or just hangs out without doing much productive (and yes, I have known a few of those). I could also considering it a gap year if one needs to recuperate from medical issues. A person graduating college and going to work (in his profession or not) before applying to grad school or persuing an internship doesn’t sound like a gap year to me. It used to be standard to work after college and before grad school. Maturity is a huge plus for grad school. If a college grad is working and paying bills, it’s a next step in life. If a college grad is doing a nonpaid intern, that’s also a logical continuation of school.

. I think I am a little confused on terminology here.

Edited by Roadrunner
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For ds's friends, "gap year" seems to be code for, "I don't have a clue what I'm doing next." That is definitely how all the parents are hearing it anyway.

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I just started reading this report again (read it when it came out) and it is clearer than the chart. It is a 51 page pdf and has charts and data by college majors.

 

https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/media/research/staff_reports/sr749.pdf?la=en

“Underemployment in the Early Careers of College Graduates Following the Great Recession

Jason R. Abel and Richard Deitz

Federal Reserve Bank of New York Staff Reports, no. 749

December 2015; revised September 2016 JEL Classification: I23, J23, J24, J62

 

Abstract

Though labor market conditions steadily improved following the Great Recession, underemployment among recent college graduates continued to climb, reaching highs not seen since the early 1990s. In this paper, we take a closer look at the jobs held by underemployed college graduates in the early stages of their careers during the first few years after the Great Recession. Contrary to popular perception, we show that relatively few recent graduates were working in low-skilled service jobs, and that many of the underemployed worked in fairly well paid non-college jobs requiring some degree of knowledge and skill. We also find that the likelihood of being underemployed was lower for those with more quantitatively oriented and occupation-specific majors than it was for those with degrees in general fields. Moreover, our analysis suggests that underemployment is a temporary phase for many recent college graduates as they transition to better jobs after spending some time in the labor market, particularly those who start their careers in low-skilled service jobs.â€

I am not finding the table with the percentage making less the $25K in this article.  

 

The referenced article defines underemployed as someone working in a career that at least 50% of the respondents said that a college degree was not required to perform the job.  However, I cannot find where the salary statistics are coming from.  So, I am wondering if they classified a recent graduate in a career, by title, and then took the average salary for that broad career title and attributed that to be the wages for the recent graduate rather than using a recent graduates actual salary

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For ds's friends, "gap year" seems to be code for, "I don't have a clue what I'm doing next." 

 

Honestly, I cannot find fault with that in a 21 y/o. I see the early 20s as a time to try out different things, with the understanding that they may be temporary. Students who have successfully completed college have demonstrated that they can be goal oriented and focused. But they don't have to know, half a year before graduating, what is coming next.

 

I have an extremely driven ambitious DD who will complete a dual degree in physics and a humanities major at a top uni within four years. She does not know what she is doing next. She is actively involved in leadership positions in two organizations, will have two jobs next semester that are both strongly related to what she might want to do, has resume building activities for every summer, is networking with alumni and organizations, has regular appointments with the career center - and has no clue what she is doing next.  And that is fine. Because she has another half year until graduation. because she has so many choices. Because not all careers are on a hiring cycle where graduates get job offers in the fall of their senior year. With any luck, her s/o (who is in a field with an early hiring cycle) may have an offer before her so that they can at least narrow down the geographical area for her to search.

 

At 20, I had not the foggiest idea what I wanted to do. I didn't even know what grad school was. When I was 21, the country in which I had grown up collapsed and vanished. I ended up doing grad school in an institution I had never heard of at 21; did a post doc in a country that I had, at 21, not even dreamed I would ever be allowed to visit; ended up emigrating and living on a different continent. None of these things I could have foreseen at 20.

 

So yes, I think it is perfectly normal when college seniors say they have no clue what they are doing next. They will do something. But they don't have to have it all figured out yet.

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I've never been smart enough to multi-quote. :/

 

As far as taking the GRE goes, I think my friends (all the kids are friends, all the parents are friends) want their children to take it while they are in school, in test-taking/studying mode. No idea if that is smart or not. So, they are frustrated that they haven't checked off that box even if the plan is to delay grad school. Ds plans to take the GMAT before graduating. It would be a few years before he would apply to MBA programs (IF he chooses to ever do that), but he wants the test part taken care of. He has been advised to do that, but maybe the GRE is different.

 

I don't know how these young people will wind up spending their time, so I can't say to what extent they will "mooch" off their parents. Not sure how that word is defined, and the definition probably varies from person to person. Is providing health insurance, room & board, auto insurance, cell phone, etc., mooching? How much of that can be covered if a young person takes a low-paying job while they ponder next steps? To me, taking a year or two to sort out life plans while being subsidized by parents is a luxury. I'm not saying it's mooching, I'm not saying I wouldn't support it/do it. For this group, I wouldn't say their parents are "rich" (yet another word subject to varying definitions), but none of them are hurting. Most are professional people. The original question in the thread was about unemployment/underemployment. I listed out the friend group because I think many will fall under this category based on what I am hearing about near-future plans.

 

I was unaware that many students do not immediately start medical school and often shadow/intern for doctors for a year. Are they paid? What do they do?

 

My guy took advantage of his school's Take 5 program - a tuition free year to study something complete outside of his majors.  Studying purely "for fun" is the intent.  While it's tuition free, one still has to pay room, board, and fees.  He took care of the "room" part by continuing to be an RA (free room).  He worked for his own spending money (as he had since his freshman year).  We took care of the rest (not terribly much compared to his other years, but still a cost out for us).

 

Also during that time he continued shadowing, volunteering for Hospice, enjoying himself with dance and juggling clubs, and his paid jobs (at the lab where he did his own research.

 

I will admit it's a luxury that we could continue to support him, but one I'm glad we were able to provide.  Now that he's entered med school, his life is going to be super busy for a long, long time, with the first few years of that coming without much of an income (none until he graduates and heads to residency).  I'm glad he was able to enjoy one more year first.

 

If the lad wanted to take a year off to play video games, we'd have had a talk.

 

(If we could have afforded for our guys to take a year off to backpack the world, I'd have jumped at the opportunity to help them - even moreso if we could join them.)

 

To us, life is not all about work.  It's about the journey.

 

I have not encountered any college senior with such plans. All of my advisees plan to do something productive after graduation. However, that does not necessarily have to be entry into grad school. One of my current graduates is going to teach English in Russia on a Fulbright. Another is going to shadow in radiation medicine before applying to grad school in that field. One has a paid research internship before going to grad school. In some ways, these are all "gap" years to bridge the time between undergrad and grad school/long term employment in the field.

 

At middle son's graduation they mentioned what each graduate in his majors (Brain & Cognitive Science and Bio) was planning to do next.  Only a couple were "undecided."  The vast majority had very worthy plans from Peace Corps (and similar) to grad/Prof school to entering research/jobs.  Being there and listening to it all (twice since we attended 2016 with his class and 2017 after his Take 5 year) gave me hope for the real world out there.  I love seeing what youngsters are heading out and doing, esp with all their enthusiasm at their age.

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If we could have afforded for our guys to take a year off to backpack the world, I'd have jumped at the opportunity to help them - even moreso if we could join them.)

 

My friend's son did that after finishing highschool. He and his girlfriend traveled and worked along the way. It was a fantastic experience and he has grown tremendously. It is not actually expensive. They had a few savings and lived on what they earned cooking, performing etc.

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So yes, I think it is perfectly normal when college seniors say they have no clue what they are doing next. They will do something. But they don't have to have it all figured out yet.

 

Youngest graduates too.  He has two standing job offers, but now there's a young lass in the picture and neither offer is near her.  He has no idea what he is going to do at the moment.  I'm not terribly worried TBH.  ;)  I know he will do something.  He just has to see what options are around near her since she has one more year before she graduates.  If they stay together, I assume the two of them will figure out something together afterward.  I'm still not worried.

 

Heck, at that stage in our lives I was still planning on an AF career and hubby was career Navy.  The Navy docs ended my AF career with an incorrect diagnosis, so both of us ended up getting out.  I still consider our lives successful even though I've mainly mooched off him TBH.  The kids at school give me quite a bit of positive feedback making me feel my new direction wasn't totally wasted.  His clients love him.  He doesn't even need to advertise.  It's all word of mouth.  

 

Life changes.  We change with it.

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My friend's son did that after finishing highschool. He and his girlfriend traveled and worked along the way. It was a fantastic experience and he has grown tremendously. It is not actually expensive. They had a few savings and lived on what they earned cooking, performing etc.

 

From what I've heard, Americans can't work in the vast majority of countries.  It's payback for us not allowing others to work while backpacking here.  (All hearsay, so perhaps inaccurate.)

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Honestly, I cannot find fault with that in a 21 y/o. I see the early 20s as a time to try out different things, with the understanding that they may be temporary. Students who have successfully completed college have demonstrated that they can be goal oriented and focused. But they don't have to know, half a year before graduating, what is coming next.

 

I have an extremely driven ambitious DD who will complete a dual degree in physics and a humanities major at a top uni within four years. She does not know what she is doing next. She is actively involved in leadership positions in two organizations, will have two jobs next semester that are both strongly related to what she might want to do, has resume building activities for every summer, is networking with alumni and organizations, has regular appointments with the career center - and has no clue what she is doing next. And that is fine. Because she has another half year until graduation. because she has so many choices. Because not all careers are on a hiring cycle where graduates get job offers in the fall of their senior year. With any luck, her s/o (who is in a field with an early hiring cycle) may have an offer before her so that they can at least narrow down the geographical area for her to search.

 

At 20, I had not the foggiest idea what I wanted to do. I didn't even know what grad school was. When I was 21, the country in which I had grown up collapsed and vanished. I ended up doing grad school in an institution I had never heard of at 21; did a post doc in a country that I had, at 21, not even dreamed I would ever be allowed to visit; ended up emigrating and living on a different continent. None of these things I could have foreseen at 20.

 

So yes, I think it is perfectly normal when college seniors say they have no clue what they are doing next. They will do something. But they don't have to have it all figured out yet.

I think you and Cynthia are talking past each other. Kids not knowing what they are going to do next but are actively thinking it through are not the same as kids who deliberately plan to spend months relaxing while contemplating their future ideas.

 

I see it as the difference between kids who know they need a job and will be actively job-hunting bc they have to pay bills/live as an adult vs. kids who see beach bum as the next phase while they ponder their future next step.

 

Kids don't have to have all the answers, but most don't plan (or even afford) on not pursuing some sort of paid employment vs actively deciding just having down time.

 

I don't think the 2 of you are discussing the same scenarios. I am reading Cynthia's posts at face value and assuming she knows these families well enough to say, yes, the kids are planning the modern version of "seeing the world" before settling into adulthood-- a luxury most are not capable of living (just like the difference between the wealthy and working class families yrs ago.)

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From what I've heard, Americans can't work in the vast majority of countries.  It's payback for us not allowing others to work while backpacking here.  (All hearsay, so perhaps inaccurate.)

 

My friend's DS and his gf didn't hold official "jobs". They performed music, washed dishes, cooked for housing communities, did odd jobs - I am sure all highly illegal, no paperwork or insurance. But then they don't seem to be quite as hung up on paperwork in certain developing countries, LOL

 

And then there are programs like WWOOF (Worldwide opportunities on organic farms), which my friend's DD did. You work in exchange for room and board.

Edited by regentrude
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I have no issue with gap years that are purposeful and part of a larger, long-range plan. However, for most of these young adults they seem to find those words to be a sort of filler/fallback answer. Their parents are frustrated.

 

Out of the close-knit friend group, only ds and one other friend (computer Engineering major) have jobs lined up for after graduation. Both were return offers from internships in their fields from this past summer.

 

My daughters gap year-and-a-half was so she could study for the GRE without also taking a full course load and working, to help recover from a very rough last semester (her grandfather died, her cousin died of a heroin overdose, and she was on the scene of an armed robbery involving a fatality).   She was also working to save up money.  

 

She is returning to the school she received her undergrad from.  They have rolling admissions so she literally took the GRE in October and is starting classes in January.  It's a new program at her school, so fairly small and not difficult to schedule classes.

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For ds's friends, "gap year" seems to be code for, "I don't have a clue what I'm doing next." That is definitely how all the parents are hearing it anyway.

 

I'd rather they take a gap year if they aren't certain of what they want to do, instead of paying a ton of money for a Masters or PhD that they may not really want or need.

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I'd rather they take a gap year if they aren't certain of what they want to do, instead of paying a ton of money for a Masters or PhD that they may not really want or need.

Why is it an either/or proposition?

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(If we could have afforded for our guys to take a year off to backpack the world, I'd have jumped at the opportunity to help them - even moreso if we could join them.)

 

 

 I'm totally doing this now with my kids. Gap year, the middle school edition ;)

 

And because I can't multiquote---I don't think going on a Fulbright is a "gap". That is work and highly competitive at that. "Gap" suggests something in between states of being LOL. If you are on a internationally renown program that's not gap-ish to me.

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 I'm totally doing this now with my kids. Gap year, the middle school edition ;)

 

And because I can't multiquote---I don't think going on a Fulbright is a "gap". That is work and highly competitive at that. "Gap" suggests something in between states of being LOL. If you are on a internationally renown program that's not gap-ish to me.

 

Med school considers anything between undergrad and med school to be Gap Years.  I agree that some are far more worthy than others.

 

2006 was our biggest travel year.  We had a full 3 months+ on the road exploring with the kids.  It was wonderful.  I wish we had the finances to do that every year - and could still take them with us to explore.

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My daughters gap year-and-a-half was so she could study for the GRE without also taking a full course load and working, to help recover from a very rough last semester (her grandfather died, her cousin died of a heroin overdose, and she was on the scene of an armed robbery involving a fatality). She was also working to save up money.

 

She is returning to the school she received her undergrad from. They have rolling admissions so she literally took the GRE in October and is starting classes in January. It's a new program at her school, so fairly small and not difficult to schedule classes.

This is not a gap year to me. She is studying and working. I think it would be a gap year if she was backpacking across US (extraordinary fun!).

 

When o went to grad school, most kids were between 28-30. I know I am ancient, so maybe things changed.

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My daughter will be under those statistics most likely. Her major is sociology and until recently she had no clear vision of what to do after college.

 

After graduation, she may travel overseas just short term. Her grandfather has kindly offered to pay.

 

Then the plan is to is prepare for the GRE during the summer. She will be volunteering and or working at a school and at least one or two other community service settings to strengthen her grad school application further down the line in a year or two. She will need a lot of hours of experience to show her commitment. We have told her we will support her as long as she is being productive and working towards a plan. Realistically she will not be making good money until she has completed her Masters and finds a professional job in her sector.

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My theory is:

 

The "average starting salary" is calculated by determining entry salary levels for jobs related to a major, not necessarily taking into account the number of such jobs relative to the number of graduates with that major.  It may also be skewed by a few high earning niche positions that very few people with that major will actually land as a starting job.

 

 

People who could only find an hourly wage job are not included in the "starting salary" statistics, instead they are in the "earned" less than $25K statistics.  People who are unemployed after graduation may not even be being counted in the "earned" category, or perhaps they are.

 

Some taking a B.S., working as lab tech, are hourly, and will be included as that is where they begin their professional careers.  They are above 25k, around here usually 38k+/3, w/401k.   I mentioned before we know a few that are thinking of switching to corrections, as corrections starts at 36k, then 44k the next year and includes a generous pension.  For those that are with companies with no move up potential, and without the grades to consider P.A. school, grad school, or med school, its not a bad thought as they can gain skills while working and have a second career.

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