Future graduates should count blessings


Now is a lucky time to be in college, as students who graduate within the next few years may have evaded the brunt of the recession.

The U.S. will likely hit pre-recession job levels in 2014, according to a projection by the Wall Street Journal, and an increasing portion of this demand is for those fortunate enough to have a higher learning degree.

A 2013 trend analysis conducted by the Collegiate Employment Research Institute indicates fortune for upcoming graduates. Averaged across all degrees, the college labor market improved by 3 percent
this year.

Deeper analysis of the report suggests a 7 percent rise in demand for accounting, marketing, computer sciences, engineering, human resources and public relations graduates. Unfortunately, graduates with MBA and financial service degrees face a stagnant, if not contracting, market. 

In late 2013, people with college degrees had a 3.4 percent unemployment rate compared to the national rate of 7 percent, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A college degree often comes with a large, looming debt, thus begging the question of long-term profitability.

In a survey by the National Association of College and Employers (NACE), the average starting salary for a bachelor’s degree holder was $44,928, up 5.3 percent from 2012. While the job openings for those with MBA are competitive, the business administration jobs averaged with a relatively larger starting salary of $55,300 for graduates and $69,200 for post-graduates.

However, students shouldn’t rush out the university gates yet. Future outlook may be gradually optimistic but the present remains nothing to gush over. The market doing as well as it did seven years ago is still depressing.

For this reason, students should consider staying in school a bit longer to ride out the remaining storm while also investing in specialized skills.

In the NACE survey, the average starting salary for those with master’s degrees is $53,386 in 2013, up 1.5 percent from 2012. This percent change, adjusted for inflation, is not to be lauded.

The average cost of a master’s degree in Florida is $26,485, according to Lumina Foundation research. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated jobs requiring master’s degrees will grow 18 percent over a decade’s time. Logically, the demand for lower skills workers will inversely decrease.

As the U.S. economy grows, the demand for individuals with specialized skills will increase. A college degree will become a necessity. Low skill jobs will either be replaced by technology or outsourced to developing countries. Like it or not, it’s time to hit the books. The world turns fast and students must keep stride, and hopefully the education system can keep up.

Wesley Higgins is a junior majoring in mass communications.