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Survey Finds College Students Have Unrealistic Expectations About Earnings After Graduation

Survey Finds College Students Have Unrealistic Expectations About Earnings After Graduation

“Today’s college students expect to make about $103,880 in their first post-graduation job, a survey suggests.”

Be sure to read to the bottom. The part about journalism majors will blow your mind.

USA Today reports:

College students expect to make $103,880 after graduation – almost twice the reality

Today’s college students expect to make about $103,880 in their first post-graduation job, a survey suggests. But the reality is much lower – as the average starting salary is actually about half that at $55,260, statistics show.

The survey, conducted by Real Estate Witch, found that, across all majors and institutions, undergraduate students overestimate their starting salaries by 88%. And 1 in 3 worry that they won’t make enough money to live comfortably after graduation.

Job prospects for the class of 2022 are higher than in recent years. A report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that employers plan to hire 31.6% more new graduates from the class of 2022 than they hired from the class of 2021.

So far, however, Real Estate Witch’s survey, conducted online with 1,000 students March 23-26, found that only 15% of students graduating in 2022 have accepted a job offer.

In NACE’s salary projections from February, estimates for this year’s college graduates were mixed. Most fields saw increases – with salaries for those majoring in math & sciences, and agriculture & natural resources, rising 5.4%. Meanwhile, humanities majors saw a salary decrease of 14.8% and communications majors saw a drop of 4.7%.

Computer science majors were projected to be the highest paid group, with an average salary of $75,900 in 2022, according to NACE. In contrast, estimates for humanities majors marked an average salary of $50,681…

Real Estate Witch found that undergrads studying journalism, psychology and liberal arts were the most likely to overestimate their future pay. Journalism students, for example, expected 139% more than the median journalist’s starting salary – projecting to make $107,040 one year after graduating while the average salary is actually $44,800.


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Dolce Far Niente | May 6, 2022 at 12:10 pm

These college-age adolescents, having been encouraged to believe themselves the center of the universe since their earliest days, have few tools to rationally access the world or their future.

Since so few have accepted job offers, I assume they believe they will continue to live with their parent, possibly parents, until that $100K job comes through.

No suprises here.

healthguyfsu | May 6, 2022 at 2:30 pm

Direct product of three things:

1. Unrealistic positivity that has been injected into their life.
2. Poor coping strategies (their favorite copes are denial and/or delay)
3. Lack of research. The age of information has had a very large and looming unintended consequence. Those who have access to information all of the time take it for granted, do not seek it, and remain among the least informed. Low quality crowdsourcing is at an all-time high. Guessing and hoping without any attachment to practical data are rampant.

Important advice I always gave to freshmen contemplating a career:

1. Go find somebody who is actually doing what you hope to do, and find out how they prepared for it. Ask them about typical pay ranges.

2. Ask them if they were doing it over again, whether they would choose the same career and would prepare for it in the same way.

Many students envision careers that don’t actually exist, or they naively prepare in ways that are not likely to get them where they want to be.

henrybowman | May 6, 2022 at 4:27 pm

I’m sure all the student loan officers are telling them that’s the pay they can expect. Why wouldn’t they?

nordic_prince | May 6, 2022 at 11:06 pm

The increase in earning potential from a college degree is vastly overrated, especially since most get saddled with a ridiculous amount of debt in pursuit of days degree. You’ll make a better living learning a trade and getting experience, which also holds the possibility of having your own business someday. Not to mention a trade is not something that can be easily outsourced to India or taken over by H1B visa workers.

    healthguyfsu in reply to nordic_prince. | May 9, 2022 at 1:26 am

    Depends…in engineering and most of STEM it’s not overrated.

    In many other fields, yes it is overrated. Those other fields water down the average.

Interviewer: What kind of job are you looking for?

Student: I am looking for a job that’s easy and fun and you get paid a lot of money.

There used to be an old joke about Boston, MA, and Cambridge in particular, having the most educated taxi drivers in the nation……

Maybe it has morphed to baristas? 😉

Heard at campus job fair: “I got the job? Great! Uhhh, does that mean I have to work?”

drsamherman | May 14, 2022 at 12:24 am

Prospective students are sold a bill of goods by admissions hucksters and then don’t bother with any due diligence. They end up with large student loan balances and whine that they are victims. There are two rotten parties to that equation and I have no sympathy for either one.