There is a greater likelihood that a Bachelor’s degree may lead to tending bar instead of setting the professional bar, according to a recent report by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.
“Why Are Recent College Graduates Underemployed? University Enrollments and Labor Market Realities,” published Jan. 28, found that 48 percent of 41.7 million employed college graduates in 2010 — nearly half of all college graduates — had jobs which required fewer credentials than the bachelor’s degree they had earned. Thirty-seven percent of these graduates had jobs which required no more than a high school education.
Authors Richard Vedder, Christopher Denhart and Jonathan Robe used employment figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine that the number of college students hunting for jobs is increasing disproportionally to the available jobs that require a bachelor’s degree.
“We have noted for several years a disconnect between the number of graduates and the realities of the labor market,” Vedder said to The Chronicle of Higher Education. “It isn’t like underemployment was growing slowly and shot up in the last five years. It has been a steady rise.”
The report also states that graduates of private over larger public institutions may tend to have the upper hand in the job market.
“It is true that attendees of the more elite schools tend to earn more money after college,” Vedder said. “But I wouldn’t want to make a generalization that private schools are always better or public schools are always better.”
Vedder also added that graduates may end up with careers that do not require higher education because of the majors they select.
The University of Massachusetts’ 2010-2012 Graduating Senior Survey found that 43 out of 417 responses from College of Humanities and Fine Arts graduates, 32.6 percent said they had accepted a full time job — their annual salary under $30,000. Results from the College of Engineering found that 77 of 266 graduate respondents said they were employed full time, with 68.8 percent of these graduates making $60,000 or more annually.
These results echo those of the CCAP report, which found that students graduating in engineering and economics, for example, usually earn nearly double than what their social work and education counterparts earn by mid-career.
Vedder, however, nodded to life being more than just financial success, saying “On the other hand, you may be happier” choosing a major which may lead to a lower paying occupation.
Luke Berry, a 2012 UMass graduate with a degree in English, said that though he is currently working three jobs, he is lucky to have found work he enjoys.
Berry, who lives in Amherst, currently works as a bar back and tour guide at High Horse; a bike mechanic at Laughing Dog Bicycles; and as a part-time after school instructor on fixing bicycles at Amherst Regional High School.
“I never thought I would get out and get my dream job right away,” he said.
“I pretty much expected to be doing what I’m doing, which is holding down the rent and paying the bills.”
Candice Serafino, assistant director of Career Services at UMass, remains optimistic for UMass students who are beginning the job hunt.
“We are seeing a slow yet steady increase from employers who are interested in connecting with UMass students,” she said.
At Career Services, Serafino said they are particularly proud of the upcoming job fairs they have planned for next week.
“They are the largest fairs we have had in about eight years,” she said, adding that an increasing amount of employers are attending — and taking notice — of UMass students at such events.
“We’re very encouraged by the employers interested in coming on campus,” she said. “We think that it is a sign that things are picking up.”
As a recent UMass graduate himself, Berry advised that graduates should be realistic when searching for jobs fresh out of college.
“Take what you can get,” he said. “Don’t go out and try to get the job you’ve been dreaming of forever. Get what you can to pay the bills and the rest will work out.”
Jaclyn Bryson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org