Higher Education: Students, Teacher Reflect on Impact of College on Employment

In current times, it seems like the emphasis on higher education is greater than ever — the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce predicted that at least 65 percent of jobs by 2020 will require some form of higher education after high school. At first glance, this statistic seems to indicate that college graduates will have a significant advantage in the workforce. Yet this is not necessarily the case; a study released by the Associated Press revealed about 53.6 percent of college graduates with a bachelor’s degree remained either unemployed or underemployed, where the individual is working at a job far below their skill set.

AP Macroeconomics teacher Dan Bates said this is possibly because current generations are more comfortable with being unemployed after college as they search for jobs.

Bates said, “The (new generation of) adults don’t worry about (finding a job) as much. They don’t hesitate to live at home when they get out of college (instead of looking) for a job. So from about the (1980s) on, by around the time they’re 30, college graduates will have had 7 different jobs. Whereas, 50 years ago and before, people just stayed (in the same job).”

However, Bates said, this also means that current generations should not be concerned about being unable to join the workforce, as the current unemployment rate for college graduates is disproportionately high due to the amount of people who are simply in between jobs as opposed to permanently jobless.

“They’re in flocks, looking around for jobs. You get what’s called frictional unemployment as they’re in between jobs, and it shoots up the unemployment rate as a result of that.”


Pranathi Jothirajah, junior

If I stick to what I want to do with my future, I’ll be fine, because after high school I want to go into pharmacy at Purdue, and if I go through the entire program, which at least in terms of my degree, will guarantee me a job. It shows I’ve put in the work, and I’ve proven that I can do the job. If I stick with that I’m fine, but if I don’t then I don’t really know what will happen. I have concerns; as time increases, it gets harder to get a job. 50 years ago, you could get a job with just a high school degree, but now it’s hard to get a job even with a bachelor’s. So as time goes on, it gets harder.

Caroline Heyl, junior

I’m just trying to take it one step at a time because I know that I will have to focus on college first, so I’ll figure out employment later. I mean, I think people should do what makes them happy. I know motivation is a really big factor with that. Being a driven person myself, I haven’t really found a problem with that. But I think you really should still try to take time for yourself, and be young, be a kid. Even though it’s stressful, things will ultimately fall where they will. Worst case scenario, you’re not doing exactly what you want, but you’ll find something.

Sam Chen, junior

I don’t feel very secure about entering the workforce. I’m so nervous about it. You can’t get a good job, even with a basic degree from college.

Destiny Smith, junior

I want to become a preschool teacher. And I don’t know exactly what college I’m going to, but I’m going to get my bachelor’s. I have a clear path. I’m not really concerned about finding a job, because there’s not a lot of preschool teachers; a lot of people don’t like to teach little kids. And even if I don’t get that job, my backup is to work in a daycare.