By Lorena Roberts, Uloop
If you’re preparing for your student’s college graduation, you’re probably also worried about their future. Will they find a job? Will they be able to pay their bills? Where will they live? What will be their quality of life?
However, according to a recent press release, Cengage has measured upcoming and recent college graduate optimism. Graduates are walking into the real world with high levels of optimism despite their student loan debt and increasing cost of housing. The Cengage Student Opportunity Index surveyed 2500 upcoming graduates in several different categories: economic, employment, social, and personal well-being. Scores were calculated both regionally and nationally. Over time, Cengage will track this data to build insight into new graduate trends.
Around 82% of recent and upcoming college graduates say they are optimistic about their future. With all the press on high student loan debt and difficulty finding employment, this might come as a surprise. But college graduates are tossing their caps and celebrating anyway, believing they’ll find the job and happiness they’re after.
“A college education has long been seen as the path to a better job and, ultimately, a better life. The Index shows that college is still a solid investment, but students’ optimism about their futures signals they don’t yet appreciate how loan debt and housing costs may impact their ability to find the jobs they want,” says Michael Hansen, CEO of Cengage. “This clearly underscores the need for the education ecosystem to work together on policies and programs that make college more affordable and help students transition from college to the workplace.”
With the drop in national unemployment, 93% of graduates think they’ll land a job related to their educational training within six months of graduating. However, only 60% of graduates actually will.
According to the beliefs of 88% of graduates, the number of jobs available in their field of study will increase over the next two years.
Only 67% expect to meet their salary expectations within a year after graduating, but admit that it might take relocation in order to do so.
As student debt and housing costs continue to increase, half of recent/upcoming graduates say they have student loan debt. The average amount is almost $23,000. On average, most graduates think they’ll be able to pay off their debt in 6 years. But other data indicates it will take 20 years.
To find a house they can afford, 65% of graduates say they will have to relocate.
About 61% of graduates responded that they will be better off than their parents, with 71% of them considering today’s economic outlook the same or better than when they began college. However, only 36% of recent graduates believe the country is heading in the right direction, with 48% believing it’s heading in the wrong direction.
While most graduates feel safe and healthy, 62% have had difficulty covering at least one healthcare expense, while 71% are satisfied with their mental health and even report satisfaction with their romantic relationships.
In addition to personal well-being and economic standing, the index also measures political differences. Those who identify as republican tend to be more optimistic (90%) about their future than Democrats (79%). Additionally, Republicans think the economic outlook is much better than Democrats.
Interestingly enough, graduates from lower income brackets are more likely to say the economic outlook for the country is worse than those from higher income brackets.
If you’re worried about your student’s future, you’re probably the only one. Our graduates are sauntering across the stage with a new outlook on life.
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