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College graduates aren’t getting the jobs or money they expect

Almost one third of grads from the college classes of 2011 and 2012 reported their current salaries were less than $25,000 per year. Still, a degree is an accomplishment as students celebrated at the University of Washington Bothell commencement in 2012. (UW Facebook photo)

A college degree doesn’t take students as far down the career path as it used to.

About 41 percent of college graduates from the past two years are stuck in jobs that don’t require their degrees, according to a survey from the consulting firm Accenture.

Despite their degrees, nearly two-thirds say they will need more training in order to get their desired job.

Accenture talked with 1,005 students who graduated from college in 2011 and 2012. In addition to those who were underemployed, 11 percent were unemployed at the moment and 7 percent said they haven’t had any job since graduating.

Many said they would need more education before they’d be able to find a job in their field of study. About 42 percent plan on going back to graduate school.

The study found college students are a bit delusional with what they expect from their first employer. More than three-quarters (77 percent) of students in the college class of 2013 believe their employer will provide formal job training. Fewer than half of the grads from 2011 and 2012 had any kind of on-the-job training.

As of late March, only 16 percent of students who will graduate in 2013 had already secured employment.

I talked with students from various grade levels and majors at the University of Washington.

Most of them believe they will be the exception to the statistics Accenture is reporting. Here’s what they say:

Hopefully I’m not in that category of being underemployed. Ed

I’m scared because after college I might not find a job right away. Thanh

Nursing is a demand field right now for jobs, so I’m not that worried. If I was an engineer or something I’d be worried. Brandon.

I graduate in June and already have a job lined up, but it’s working for my uncle and I probably could have done that without getting a four year degree. Anna

When you’re paying that much (tuition) you’re expecting a job to help pay so when you hear that 41 percent, which is almost half, it scares you. Makes me wonder if you even want to go to college anymore. Vin

It’s definitely a worry. Getting a high paying job is not the only reason for going to college, but it’s for sure one of them. It would be nice to feel like doing this and paying this much money is going to get me ahead of somebody who didn’t. Susan

It’s expensive to go to college. If you can get a job by not going to college that’s tempting, but I think it’s much more important to get an education. Scott

When I asked a senior studying political science if he thought he’d be able to get a job that would enable him to pay off his college loans, his answer wasn’t overly confident.

“Um, I think so,” says Destin.

Good luck.

2013 graduates also have outsized expectations for salary and living arrangements, according to the Accenture survey.

Only 15 percent of soon-to-be 2013 grads expect to earn less than $25,000 a year. In reality, 32 percent of graduates from the past two years reported their current salaries were less than 25 grand.

The grads’ college loan debt was between $30,000 and $50,000.


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