Days after I read it, my mind kept returning to this story about an art history major still unable to find a "decent" job three years after graduating from college. 2009 was a very tough year, especially if your major was art history.
Alone in the darkness, a sense of defeat courses through her body -- disappointment about her past and uncertainty about what lies ahead. This, she thinks to herself, is surely what failure feels like.Six years ago, Malik fled this town for Syracuse University. Since graduating in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in art history, she has yet to find a decent job.She hadn't planned on moving back home and, at the age of 23, never expected to return to her mother's house for an extended and open-ended period of time...."At times, it really feels very personal, it really feels like I've failed," says Malik, standing in the kitchen of her mother's two-story stone house and recalling the eight weeks since she returned home....After graduating from college, Malik moved to Boston. There, she worked as a nanny, sold books, and waited tables -- a series of dead-end jobs that didn't pay more than the minimum wage, didn't require a college degree, and weren't remotely related to what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
Two months ago, she ran out of money and drove home from Boston to Lansdale, a middle-class suburb north of Philadelphia, her car brimming with the contents of post-college life: canned food, twinkle lights, potted plants.
In the video accompanying the story, Sabrina sheds some light on how she arrived at her predicament:
good any jobs in their field before the 2009 recession hit?
"I imagined I would graduate with my degree, and how hard I worked and the contacts I had, I imagined I would end up in a museum or a gallery. That has definitely been adjusted as it becomes clear that there are people who have masters above me who are looking for that same job and I have to adjust those expectations because of it."Why this naivete? Were art history majors finding
She's hardly alone. Malik is part of a generation of 20-somethings that's experiencing what it's like to graduate from college, move back in with your parents, and then get stuck there. Though estimates vary, a recent study by Twentysomething Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing to young adults, predicted that of the 2 million graduates in the class of 2011, 85 percent will return home because they can't secure jobs that might give them more choices and more control over their lives....According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobless rate for younger workers with a college degree has more than doubled since the recession began four years ago -- from 3.5 percent in April of 2007 to 6.4 percent in April of this year.For college graduates under the age of 25, finding stable work is a particular challenge. According to Andrew Sum, an economist at Northeastern University, about half, or 3.2 million, are "underutilized" -- meaning they're unemployed, working part-time, or working a job outside of the college labor market, such as bartending or waiting tables.
Sabrina's mother paid $100,000 from savings and $20,000 from a loan to to send her daughter to Syracuse University. Today, it's the mother who is making the loan payments while Sabrina struggles to pay on her $2,000 credit card debt.
From a recent post:Parents exert a powerful shaping force on their children's decisions to go to college, as well as which college to attend. In addition, they are often caught up in the emotional rush that a college education entails, further complicating an issue that has already become a financial minefield for the middle class."All along, I was going to make it work," explains Marilyn. "If I had to take out loans, I was going to do that."Once Sabrina and Omar were admitted into the colleges of their dreams, Marilyn saw it as her personal responsibility to make sure they could attend -- even when it meant taking out additional loans in order to finance it. And while Marilyn says she doesn't regret her investment, she assumed that a $120,000 degree would at least translate into a decent-paying job for her daughter."One thing that terrifies parents more than budget deficits or a weak economy is job security for their kids. They're afraid they won't be able to pass along their middle class status to the next generation," says Anthony P. Carnevale, who directs Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce. "In raising a child in America, the fear of failing is just enormous. Sending your kid to college used to pretty much guarantee their future success. It no longer necessarily works that way."
The vast majority of parents expect that their children will pursue a college education. Among those with one or more children under age 18, 94% expect at least one of their children will go to college.