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Underemployment numbers instill further pessimism for grads
Published: Sunday, February 3, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 3, 2013 16:02
They say the master’s is the new bachelor’s, but in the end it’s still just a glorified piece of paper.
According to a recent study by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, nearly half (48 percent) of college graduates are said to be overqualified for their current jobs. The study shows the number of grads is far larger than the number of jobs requiring a degree, leaving those entering the workforce with naïve optimism to apply for positions they could have gotten in high school.
College administrators have force-fed us the belief we’ll never get a job if we don’t get a degree, and political leaders have used the same belief as part of their campaigns. Yet this new study illustrates the concept of supply-and-demand and shows exactly what we fear: there are more of us than there are positions that employers are willing to create and fill.
All we ask is for our education to be worthwhile. We do not spend thousands of dollars to flip burgers.
It all revolves around an incredibly flawed American education system. Students are told a degree is important, and the more money you pay to get that shiny B.A., the better, but those numbers don’t feel like they’re holding up anymore with each new labor study. Classes are full and people still keep going to school, but it’s disheartening to put so much time and money into something to see its perceived usefulness go out the door. Employers want to hire only those with experience, but where are grads supposed to get this experience if no one will hire them?
Of course not all majors are created equal. According to the study, economics and engineering majors unsurprisingly earn twice what social work and education graduates receive by mid-career. But either way, you have to get hired first. A degree is something nice to hang on our walls, but first we have to be able to afford the walls to hang them on.
It’s a shame on the big businesses that wonder why our economy is so stagnant. While experience always triumphs (and rightfully should), experience is nothing if it’s no longer innovative. Employers are not hiring new candidates and are not bringing in any new ideas. Instead, they’re hiring what are essentially calculators – people with experience who can do what they’re told to do and nothing more. Save for a few major companies (e.g. Google, Apple, etc.), what you’re doing is systematically erasing creativity and imagination from big business. And that is why we’re at a stand-still.
The only comforting thing about this study is it looks like experience trumps trivial knowledge after all. Students always need to be realistic on that level because, yes, grades matter, but what good is that with no actual work ethic or no idea what you’re doing when push comes to shove? But if that is really the case, then stop expecting applicants to walk in able to pull out a diploma from Prestigious University.
People need to make up their mind – what exactly is important for students? Is the master’s actually the new bachelor’s or does it even matter? Are we wasting money that we’ll probably never get to pay off? And, most importantly, what can our universities actually do for us? For many students, the answer is clearly nothing. And that’s enough to keep every student up at night.