More recent graduates are transitioning into the real world as sales associates, cashiers and even janitors — a trend that was almost non-existent 50 years ago.
Almost half of American college graduates are working in occupations that require less than a four-year degree, according to a new study.
The Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) released a study Monday dissecting the increase in overqualified college graduates in today’s tough and competitive job market.
A qualified candidate isn’t just an individual with a degree, but someone with work experience in his or her field of study, said Debbie Kubena, University of Texas at Austin College of Communications career services manager.
“Unfortunately, some students holding bachelor’s degrees are being forced to take jobs that don’t require degrees … thus they are considered overqualified,” Kubena said. “Students graduating with master’s degrees are sometimes considered overqualified for the entry-level positions they seek because of no work experience.”
More recent graduates are transitioning into the real world as sales associates, cashiers and even janitors — a trend that was almost non-existent 50 years ago. The study says the trend is likely to continue in the next decade.
“There are going to be an awful lot of disappointed people because a lot of them are going to end up as janitors,” Richard Vedder, Ohio University economist and CCAP founder, told USA TODAY.
In 2010, 30% of adults over 25 possessed a college degree, up from a little over 5% in 1950, according to the study. About 48% of college graduates now have jobs that require less than a four-year college education.
John Kappelman, an anthropology professor at UT–Austin, was one of those graduates.
“I worked as a janitor after I graduated college,” he said. “No job was beneath me.”
Kappelman encourages students to take advantage of internship opportunities as an undergraduate to gain experience and network.
However, internships are often unpaid, forcing students like Brandon Czar, a senior at the University of Houston majoring in computer science, into a financial conundrum.
“I struggle to get paid opportunities and I have had to turn [unpaid opportunities] down,” Czar said. “But, due to the nature of my major, I receive legit experience in my coursework.” Upon graduation, Czar will have a degree that ranks on Forbes‘ list of best-paying majors in 2012 with starting salary around $64,400.
High-demand majors, such as science, technology, engineering and medical majors, continue to offer greater financial stability than several liberal arts degrees.
Forbes listed anthropology as one of the worst majors of 2012 based on starting salary and unemployment rates. Fred Valdez, UT-Austin anthropology professor, questions why a lower salary would constitute labeling a major as “the worst.” Valdez said he is more concerned with an individual’s happiness than a stable bank account.
“Are you happy with what you do?” asks Valdez. “I know lots of high school friends who make lots of money, but they’re miserable and look forward to time away from work.”
Accompanying anthropology on other worst- and most-useless-majors lists, including one from The Daily Beat, are programs such as journalism, English and liberal arts.
But a low average salary didn’t deter UT–Austin journalism graduate Bri Thomas from following her passion, even risking financial stability.
“If familiar with journalistic salaries, it is clear that money is not my main priority,” Thomas said. “As long as I get to use my words while I work, I will be happy.”
The journalist at heart stumbled upon a social media/PR job after graduation with a local company. She doesn’t have her dream job yet, but she said she’s allowing her twenty-somethings to take her down whatever path fuels her passion, even if she isn’t cashing six-figure checks.
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