Tuesday, April 26, 2011

OMG I'm graduating from college! Yay?!


Graduating from college is no doubt a milestone in a young person’s life. After 4 (or 3 or 5 nowadays) years of tireless studying and partying (tee-hee), college students across the country leave the safety of their campuses by the tens of thousands each year to finally enter the “real world.”

Diploma in hand, graduates are ready to take the bull by the horns and plunge forward head-on into the unexplored and highly unfamiliar territory that is today’s job market. But is the market ready for them? A recent article by the Huffington Post suggests otherwise. Instead of jump-starting their careers, graduates are increasingly moving back home to live with their parents. Why? The job market may not have recovered to the extent that experts would have us believe. And the longer graduates go without finding full-time employment, the worse off they may be.

As a soon-to-be college graduate with no set post-graduation plans, I find this news slightly alarming. While many of my friends will be headed off to graduate school (law school, to be exact) this fall, I could be doing one of any number of things come September. I could be working full-time in my college town and living with my best friend (which, according to the afore mentioned article, may be more difficult than it seems), I could be serving as an AmeriCorps volunteer halfway across the country, or I could be living at home with my parents, like Ashley Moore (dear God, help me! I can’t go back to suburbia at 21!). The possibilities are endless. But lucky for me, I don’t plan on staying in the job market for very long. I’ll be studying for and taking the GRE this summer in preparation for the 2012-2013 graduate school admission cycle, after which I’ll be in school for another 6 years before entering the job market for real. So in actuality, I only have to figure out what I’ll be doing for the next year.

Going to graduate school seems to be the general trend these days for a variety of reasons. Obtaining an advanced degree not only increase’s one’s chances of securing full-time employment, but it also delays one’s entry into the unforgiving and highly competitive job market. This trend holds true not only for recent college graduates, but also for individuals in the workforce. The average age of graduate cohorts across the country has risen over the past couple of years as a result. Seasoned professionals and those who have been laid off are going back to school in increasing numbers in order to gain a competitive edge.

What does this mean for today’s college students? We need to be on top of our game now more than ever. Not only is it more difficult to find a job these days because of the economy, but it’s also more difficult to get into graduate school because of increased competition. We need to take a more active role in preparing ourselves for life after college by completing more internships, taking on leadership roles in student organizations, and planning ahead. In doing so, we ensure ourselves the best possible chance at success.

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