Careers: An Advanced Degree is No Guarantee

College Graduate Unemployment is Stacking Up

By: Clara Perez

Graph of Unemployment by Degree (Credit: Public Policy Institute of California)

While many believe an advanced degree is their meal ticket to life, the employment statistics for college graduates tells a different story.

For many graduate students pursuing master’s degrees and PhD’s, the hope for landing a stellar career when it’s all said and done is still high.

Pursuing an advanced degree in this modern era still seems like the best course of action for any college student looking for a stable and rewarding career.

However, statistics show that many college graduates, even with advanced degrees, have difficulty landing that perfect job.

According to GradStaff, Inc., during a 2016 survey of recent college graduates including those with master’s degrees, 70% were unemployed or were holding full-time non-professional jobs in order to pay bills.

Another 20% had full-time professional jobs but were already seeking new employment that would be better suited to their degree.

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce has also reported that graduating degree-holding millennials are lacking in the workplace.

Accounting for about 40% of total U.S. unemployment, recently matriculated millennials employment rates, while up from past years, is still quite underwhelming.

An unexplainable amount of work, time and effort goes into earning a degree, especially more than one, so to have it result in unemployment or undesired employment is quite discouraging.

However, the issue may not be with the degree or your major.

GradStaff, Inc. has also divulged what they believe is the biggest driver of degree holder unemployment- the colleges.

Many colleges have job fairs and career offices in order to service students and alumni seeking employment but what they don’t have is a fair representation of the real-world job market.

For the most part, large companies dominate on-campus recruitment efforts and they target STEM oriented majors or liberal arts majors at the top 10 percentiles of their class.

There are quite a few issues with this approach by colleges using large companies to recruit.

Firstly, small and medium companies are driving the workforce.

According to Automatic Data Processing (ADP), nearly 75% of jobs filled in 2014 were with companies containing 500 employees or less.

Secondly, the associated cost with on-campus recruiting is too high for small-to-medium businesses to become involved so, students never get the proper exposure to these job market heavy movers and shakers.

Thirdly, there is a lack of inclusion of opportunities for all different types of majors aside from just STEM.

This can lead to thousands of students and graduates feeling unsatisfied with their college career services and leave them feeling generally hopeless.

The solution to the problem of colleges not being diversified enough in their presented career guidance must start with the same colleges.

Many universities have not updated their quality of career services for the new era of job searching.

The historic approach of guiding a student on a job search and catering to big businesses who want to recruit is not only outdated but also harmful to new cohorts of graduates.

Colleges must revamp their career services and on-campus recruitment to reflect modern job search engines and employment affairs.

Learning to navigate websites like Linkedin, Indeed and Glassdoor would be far more useful than just directing student to these sites.

Also, reaching out to smaller companies who may have plenty of job openings instead of just large ones with only a few cut-throat chances can help steer students and alumni in better directions.

Lastly, incorporating staff career services with professionals, who are aware of the current ins and outs of the job market, can help keep all parties well informed and well prepared for the journey to the job ahead.

1 reply »

  1. God Bless You for this article. PhD programs in narrow niches like astronomy and sociology produce unemployed and indebted graduates.

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