Current and former Antioch-students share their thoughts on the link between college degrees and career opportunities.
According to student loan expert, Mark Kantrowitz, the average student debt for a college graduate is $37,173. Even so, 43.5% of recent college graduates are underemployed. They simply have to settle for jobs that do not require a college degree, says a report from 2014.
How can this be? Could it be that education has lost its position as the great equalizer in society? Could it be that the average 5% annual increase tuition cost has not translated into an increase in opportunity?
This is a weekly article series in three parts, and in this first part I wanted to find out what the people behind the numbers – the students – thought their education would give them. I met with current students at Antioch University Santa Barbara and this is what they answered:
Eric Fuerst – Graduating June 2017
How do you expect your education and degree to contribute to you getting a quality job when you graduate?
– I definitely think it is going to help me, but not as much as people might think. I will have to do so much more hard work myself to get that job that I want. I am doing an internship right now and I really think that will help. The degree is not enough anymore, you need to go out and market yourself.
What are your concerns?
– It is kind of concerning that I am almost done, and all my friends graduated before me and are still living at home. It is concerning that I do not have anything lined up yet. I am also concerned about not having enough experience. That is why I am doing the internship right now, because a bachelor’s degree today is not worth what it was five years ago. I probably have to take on two jobs to get by and to pay the bills, it is going to drain my bank account. I am very concerned.
What has Antioch done to prepare you?
– Antioch has made my speaking skills very strong. I have learned a lot of how to market myself. Antioch has prepared me with a lot of soft skills that I need when applying for jobs.
What could be done to help millennials with this situation?
– High schools really need to do a better job in having students know that they have not just college as an option, but other ‘hands on’ vocational schools as an option. There are so many jobs now that are left wide open because everybody has been funneled into the four year college system. I think that that would ultimately level everything out, if more people are sent in those directions, that would increase the opportunities for the ones deciding to go through with a college education.
“The degree is not enough anymore, you need to go out and market yourself.”
Alicia Briggs – Graduating in June 2017
What are your expectations of your education?
– I feel like you generally need a degree now, everyone says that. You need at least a bachelor’s to be able to apply for the jobs that you want, but I also think that experience is important. I have been working throughout my education so I kind of feel that that might help me more than my degree in some ways. But I hope that my degree will open doors so that I can be on the same level as everyone else applying for jobs, because everyone applying for jobs today either have a bachelor’s degree or like 30 years of experience.
Are you applying for jobs right now?
– Yes. That has been an interesting experience because I feel like they want at least 2-4 years experience for most entry level jobs which is kind of ridiculous because how are you supposed to do that when you have been to school all this time?
What are your thoughts or concerns when it comes to your job searching process?
– I’m concerned about having to go for a job that has nothing to do with my major. I want to do something that is more up my alley with a better salary and better everything. So my fear would be if I would end up doing a job that I am already doing today. I also feel that when going to school you network so much so hopefully I can get a job through that. That is the best part of going to school in my opinion – all the people you have met and can help you out.
What has Antioch done to prepare you?
– I feel that the networking is the main thing they have given me, but along with that, especially from Antioch LA. I have gotten a lot of presentation skills, critical thinking and the opportunity to work in the community. It has forced me out of my comfort zone, and made me try new things. I volunteered in so many organizations and got jobs that I would have never pursued if I had not gone to Antioch, because then I never would have thought they would have been an option for me. They also build up your confidence in yourself and your ability to feel like you can do anything you want to.
How do you feel that your standing in the job market will look like?
– It is a huge difference since our parents went to school. Nowadays, and especially after the financial crisis a lot of the people you are competing with have years of experience and a degree. That was not the case before. It used to be that entry level jobs were designated to entry level people, now that is not really true anymore.
“It used to be that entry level jobs were designated to entry level people, now that is not really true anymore.”
Next week, I will meet with former students of Antioch and talk about how their education has effected them and their chances to reach their career goals.