Making College Count

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According to reports, about half of the graduating 2012 college class will most likely find themselves either jobless or underemployed. Of course it all depends on what your major is, but for so many young people, they surf through college with a general idea of where they want to go when they get out but without all the preparation they need to acquire the career they wish.


Many young adults exit college with a bachelor’s degree, but then have to fall into lower-wage positions, regardless of the fact that tuition and student loan rates are higher.  The Washington AP reported:


While there's strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder. Median wages for those with bachelor's degrees are down from 2000, hit by technological changes that are eliminating midlevel jobs such as bank tellers. Most future job openings are projected to be in lower-skilled positions such as home health aides, who can provide personalized attention as the U.S. population ages.


Add to this the consideration of the underemployment situation, and we find that job prospects for those with bachelor degrees has fallen this past year to their lowest levels in more than a decade. Due to this struggle to find a place in the job market, the article reports:


Perhaps more than ever, the choices that young adults make earlier in life — level of schooling, academic field and training, where to attend college, how to pay for it — are having a long-lasting financial impact.


Many students just enter college because it seems like the next thing to do. College graduates tend to get better paying positions, so everyone thinks that is the best option. However, Harvard economist Richard Freeman thinks otherwise:


You can make more money on average if you go to college, but it's not true for everybody. If you're not sure what you're going to be doing, it probably bodes well to take some job, if you can get one, and get a sense first of what you want from college.


The problem comes from this thought by students, and gets even more complicated when you factor in rising tuition costs and the poor job market. The report breaks down the problem by zone:


By region, the Mountain West was most likely to have young college graduates jobless or underemployed — roughly 3 in 5. It was followed by the more rural southeastern U.S., including Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee. The Pacific region, including Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, also was high on the list. On the other end of the scale, the southern U.S., anchored by Texas, was most likely to have young college graduates in higher-skill jobs.


For those in college now, seek a specific degree that is known to be in demand. If you are in such a major, make sure you acquire as many of the certifications as you are eligible for. If you are one of the underemployed, counselors say to consider further education to either boost what you have, or shift you into a more high demand career field.


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