Is College Still The Best Option For Those Looking To Land A Career?
It’s that time of year again. All over the country, millions of college kids are packing up their beer pong tables, throwing out their crusty old futons, deleting the local pizza joint’s number from their cell phone, and throwing their caps into the air in celebration of receiving their college diplomas.
Finally, they won’t have to search the couch cushions for a couple of extra bucks or call Mom and Dad to wire them some funds at the beginning of every month. Because thanks to their college diplomas, now these kids will finally be able to get out there in the “real world” and discover what they’ve been working so hard for for the last four—or more!—years. It’s time to put that college diploma to work!
Or, is it? As it turns out, a recent survey indicates that about 85 percent of today’s college grads are heading to the same place after graduation this year—back to Mom and Dad’s house! Though the economy has picked up slightly in the last year or two, grads are still last on the list when it comes to finding employment. In fact, about 54 percent of people under 25 are unemployed. And with millions of grads set to hit the open market to try and find work this year, that number could increase even more.
So, it begs the question: Is a college education still the best option for those looking to land a job in the future? Turns out, it might not be. But if you’d like to increase your chances of finding employment after graduating, there are some simple steps that you can take before you even start attending school to give yourself a better opportunity to find work afterwards. Here are the five things you should do to make sure that you’ll be one of the college grads who doesn’t move back in with the ‘rents after you don your cap and gown.
1. Research different majors and talk to an educational advisor about which types of majors find employment soon after graduating.
We get it. Most college kids are 18 or 19 years old when they start college and they’re not thinking about getting a job—let alone a career—anytime soon. So they tend to select the major that allows them the most freedom to sleep all day and party all night. But you need to be thinking about your future when you sit down and select a major. So try asking an advisor which majors typically yield the best results in the job market. This way, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into and you won’t be surprised when you walk out of college in four years with a basket-weaving degree and don’t know why you can’t find work.
2. Search for the available jobs in your town or city so that you know what types of places seem to be hiring new graduates.
This isn’t a fool-proof system, but it will give you a better sense of what types of jobs you’ll be looking at once you finish school. You can choose your major based on what types of jobs are available out there for you. This will help you land a gig after school and give you some insight into what employers are looking for from a college graduate.
3. Think about interning early on in your college career.
You’d be surprised at the number of college students who wait until the last semester of school (myself included!) to try and find an internship. This will most certainly put you behind the 8-ball when it comes time to finding work after graduation, especially if you don’t end up securing any type of internship during college as a result of your procrastination. Internships are a great way to build relationships with those in your field and often yield jobs after graduation. So try getting one early on in your college career and continue to intern throughout college. It’s some of the best on-the-job training you can get and might just make you a top candidate for a job once you graduate.
4. Be willing to take a low-paying job right out of college in order to gain work experience.
Many college students feel entitled once they graduate and are unwilling to take a job that pays less than what they feel they deserve. It’s okay to try and make what you feel you are worth, but you also have to keep in mind that it’s a buyer’s market right now for employers. They can have their pick of any number of college grads right now and that means that they don’t need to offer high salaries to find employees. Recognize this and don’t be afraid to accept a job that might not pay what you were expecting to make in order to gain experience. You may find that this gives you a distinct advantage over your fellow college grads in a few years as you’ll have more experience than those who hold out for a better-paying gig.
5. Make sure that attending college is really what you want to do before you start your first semester.
In today’s world, a college education is seen as something that everyone should want. However, the truth is that there are plenty of people out there making money and earning a decent living without a college degree. If college isn’t your thing, you can try your hand at a trade, attend a school specialized to a particular field, or try working at different jobs after high school before you ultimately decide that you need college to help you advance in one of those particular jobs. Too many teens today rush off to college before they’re ready and that leaves them with degrees that are not particularly useful in today’s job economy. And in turn, that leaves them standing in the unemployment line after graduation. But, rest assured: With the right preparation, a lot of thought, and a little luck, that doesn’t have to be you.