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Saturday, September 30, 2023


Recent graduates need help, not lecturing

Jose Gonzalez-Campo/The Cougar

Stop asking “So what are you doing after graduation? Why don’t you have a job lined up yet?” Seriously.

Between hustling to plan graduation parties, securing caps and gowns and squeaking out those last few passing grades, graduating seniors already deal with an immense amount of stress.

Many relatives asking this question might say that they’re concerned about the graduate’s financial well-being, or that they’re trying to advise them on how to get a job “just like they did back in the day.” 

But the unfortunate truth is that recent graduates are facing a job market completely unlike previous generations. Graduates in 2023 have to face the impacts of a recession, continued industry collapse, and a market that’s immensely oversaturated.

As of 2014, there were nearly twice as many students enrolled in University programs compared to 1996, meaning competition for jobs is fiercer than ever before. 

Even eight years ago, nearly 32% of graduates struggled to find a job within four months of graduation and the gap has only grown amidst the recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The number of unemployed college graduates increased by 2.5 million between 2019 and 2021, with a large portion citing an involuntary reduction of working hours or a lack of available full-time jobs as their reason for unemployment

And even though some companies were able to weather the storm, nearly 6.2 million workers were put out of a job due to their workplace closing or going bankrupt during the pandemic.

While the impact can be felt across the board, students in particular industries are likely to feel especially anxious. Film students are graduating into a writers’ strike, journalism students face a continued decline in available jobs and unemployment anxiety is high.

However, older generations are not being entirely unreasonable here. It seems likely the economy will improve as COVID-19 fades and it’s not bad to use the advice and experience they offer to improve your job search. 

But some industries are unlikely to ever return to their past status, and many graduates face a job market feeling unprepared and underqualified. Parents would be wise to take a step back and remember when they were in the same position.

Humanities students in particular are going to have to rethink the way they use their degree as jobs in that field continue to become less available. Some experts suggest that the values gained from these degrees can be applied to other fields if the job seeker knows how to sell themselves.

But if today’s graduates are meant to find anything close to the level of success their parents did, it’s going to take cooperation. University officials, parents and industry experts need to put aside their biases and listen.

A college degree doesn’t guarantee what it used to, and the sooner parents come to terms with that, the sooner graduates can actually get the help they need.

Malachi Spence Key is a journalism senior who can be reached at 
[email protected]

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