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Wednesday, December 1, 2021


Study shows that overeducated graduates lead to depression, lower job satisfaction

A new study from Ghent University in Belgium has linked “overeducation” to depression.

Overeducation refers to a situation in which people have received more academic preparation than their job requires. Thus, according to Rachael Rettner of LiveScience, they remain unchallenged and unable to use the skills they worked so hard to obtain.

Given the current state of the job market in the U.S., it seems very likely that most college graduates will start with jobs for which they are either overqualified, or in which their degrees are not relevant. Because so few jobs are available, people who have worked hard and sacrificed considerably are being forced to settle and are becoming disillusioned.

Kate Wilson, UH alumna and recent recipient of a master’s degree in library science from the University of Pittsburgh, had as difficult a time as anyone. She says that after graduate school, “it took me 18 months to find a part-time job in my field, and I had to move in order to do so.”

She is also living proof of the double-edged sword that is education. Within those 18 months, she said, “I was turned down for numerous service jobs because I was too qualified. The majority of my friends were in the same boat.”

College degrees are required for most well-paying jobs these days, as we all know. Depression is a natural response, though, when all the good jobs are taken and the expensive, hard-won degree is keeping its holder from even menial jobs.

Having experienced the pain and lived to tell the tale, Wilson has pragmatic advice for struggling job seekers and soon-to-be-graduates. “Be flexible,” she said. “You aren’t going to land your dream job right out of school.”

She recommends going on as many information interviews (an interview with someone who has expertise and experience in the field) as possible in order to “meet potential employers, network, and learn more about the field.”

Finally, the resume is, of course, vital. “Spend time tailoring each and every cover letter and resume to each job,” Wilson said.

With mental health, as with all diseases, it is important to remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Preparation for graduation and job searches are well worth the time, and will save anguish in the long run.

Jobs are temporary. Someone newly out of college will, without a doubt, end up with a less prestigious job than is their ultimate goal, and that’s okay. You have to crawl before you can walk. The important thing is to gain as much experience and knowledge as possible along the way.

Opinion columnist Katie Wian is an English junior and may be reached at [email protected]


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