Are expectations too great?

The lack of employment opportunities for recent college graduates is problematic, the Associated Press reports, citing analysis of government statistics that show one in two graduates are jobless or underemployed.

The analysis “lays bare the highly uneven prospects for holders of bachelor’s degrees,” AP reported. On the other hand, it has always been the case that some bachelor’s degrees are not “worth as much,” in terms of income potential, as other bachelor’s degrees.

That’s why some graduates in AP’s report don’t quite fit the bill as “underemployed.” For example, Seattle barista Michael Bledsoe, 23, earned a creative writing degree in 2010.

“I don’t even know what I’m looking for,” Bledsoe told AP. He said employers questioned his lack of experience or the practical worth of his major. Bledsoe, who “makes just above minimum wage,” received help from his parents to help pay off student loans. He is now contemplating graduate school, seeing few other options. “There is not much out there, it seems,” he said.

Just so Bledsoe and others know: There was never, ever a magical time in our short history of capitalism that a creative writing degree guaranteed you anything after graduation (except an education). You’d think an adviser or parent might mention that.

(Other majors with few jobs, AP reports: zoology, anthropology, philosophy, art history and humanities. Those with the most: nursing, teaching, accounting and computer science.)

The recession may have made rare opportunities even more rare, but like poets, even degreed philosophers have always had a tough time finding employment.

Also, “making just above minimum wage” in Washington means making more than $9.04 an hour. That’s nothing to sniff at, for making coffee drinks.

Perhaps “I don’t even know what I’m looking for” is more the problem than being “underemployed.” In good times and bad, it’s not uncommon for 23-year-olds to not know what they want to do in life. Let’s not blame a college degree for that.

Other truisms expressed in the article that no one shared with the graduates:

“There are so few jobs … It’s all about who you know.” Yes. Always has been and always will be. That’s why you can’t “network” enough and should never burn bridges.

“Every other job wants you to have previous history in the field.” Yes. Sometimes you might have to take a low-paying or even non-paying internship to get some experience in competitive fields.

If getting a college education is only valued because it leads to employment, then we simply need more trade schools and fewer schools of “higher education.”

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Tuesday, Sept. 26

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Sen. June Robinson, D-Everett, left, and Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, right, embrace after a special session to figure out how much to punish drug possession on Tuesday, May 16, 2023, in Olympia, Wash. Without action, Washington's drug possession law will expire July 1, leaving no penalty in state law and leaving cities free to adopt a hodgepodge of local ordinances.  (Karen Ducey/The Seattle Times via AP)
Editorial: Robinson smart choice to head Senate budget panel

A 10-year legislative veteran, the Everett senator displays a mastery of legislation and negotiation.

Randall Tharp’s month recovery coins after battling a fentanyl addiction.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Fentanyl crisis should force rethinking of approach

A continuum of care, that includes treatment in jails, is imperative, says a journalist and author.

School buses need seat belts and limits on capacity

My name is Grace Davis and I am a seventh-grade middle schooler… Continue reading

Congress must reauthorize funding act for Alzheimer’s research

With more than 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, including 120,000… Continue reading

Comment: Democrats have nothing to gain by backing Menendez

Unlike the loss of Al Franken, encouraging the New Jersey senator to go doesn’t cost the Democrats much.

Comment: Amid union victories, labor still faces big challenges

Federal regulations, such as the Taft-Hartley Act, have long stymied labor’s efforts to gain members.

Comment: Desantis’ $2 gas pledge should terrify Texas

He can’t get there unless oil is trading below $55 a barrel; nobdy wants to revisit those days.

Flowers bloom on the end of a dead tree on Spencer Island on Monday, Aug. 28, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Restore salmon habitat but provide view of its work

Comments are sought on a plan to restore fish habitat to the island east of Everett with popular trails.

Most Read