It’s scary out there: Today’s college graduates face an uncertain future

May 22, 2012 • United States, Daily Email Recap

The following essay, which includes many references to human demography, was written by William B. Dickinson, distinguished professor at Louisiana State’s Manship School of Mass Communication. He previously worked as a special agent in the U.S. Army Counter-Intelligence Corps, editor of Congressional Quarterly Inc. and general manager of The Washington Post Writers Group. I think you will find it to be well written and informative. See:

It’s scary out there: Today’s college graduates face an uncertain future

Next month, thousands of Cal State Bakersfield graduates in cap and gown will receive diplomas — and launch themselves into a scary economy. Similar scenes will be repeated at campuses across America. In all, 1.7 million members of the class of 2012 will embark on the next phase of their lives. In one sense, these are the lucky aspirants to the good life in America.

But a future that looked promising four years ago has dimmed for many in the class of 2012. A disturbing number will join what has been likened to “a kind of B.A. bread line” of minimum-wage jobs or, worse, a forced return home. A relative describes the status of a daughter who graduated last year from a pricey New England college and at last found poorly paid work teaching English to ambitious Vietnamese in Ho Chi Minh City.

“It’s amazing how few of her cohorts have career-type jobs at this point,” he writes. “Most are living at home and working as waitresses or baristas or as tutors, dog-sitting, etc. And these were all very successful kids throughout college.”

The New York Times Magazine spoke with 226 of the 309 members of the Class of 2011 from well-regarded Drew University in Madison, N.J., seven months after graduation. The Times survey (“Hello, Cruel World,” March 25), revealed that 17 percent of its sample of Drew grads were unemployed; only 39 percent had full-time jobs; and 34 percent of all jobs involved food service, retail customer service, clerical or unskilled work. One Drew grad has part-time work in a holistic pet-food store and hopes to start her own grooming business.

“Worse still,” said the article, “the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics was reporting that only 5 of the 20 jobs projected to grow fastest over the coming decade would require a bachelor’s degree.”

Heavy debt to finance college also hangs over most graduates and their families.

How will this play out on the political stage in a presidential election year? What does it portend for creation of traditional (or untraditional) families down the road? More importantly, with jobless youth a rising problem both in our country and around the world, what can be done to keep societies from imploding under the stress? Is the inchoate Occupy movement the precursor of something more focused and aggressive?

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