Every now and again I read articles that paint an interesting picture for recent college grads. The content is usually the same, as are the stories.
Take for example a recent editorial in the New York Times entitled “College, Jobs and Inequality”. Leading into the issue of income inequality as it relates to education, it says:
Searching for solace in bleak unemployment numbers, policy makers and commentators often cite the relatively low joblessness among college graduates, which is currently 5.1 percent compared with 10 percent for high school graduates and an overall jobless rate of 9.8 percent. Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, cited the data recently on “60 Minutes” to make the point that “educational differences” are a root cause of income inequality.
A college education is better than no college education and correlates with higher pay. But as a cure for unemployment or as a way to narrow the chasm between the rich and everyone else, “more college” is a too-easy answer. Over the past year, for example, the unemployment rate for college grads under age 25 has averaged 9.2 percent, up from 8.8 percent a year earlier and 5.8 percent in the first year of the recession that began in December 2007. That means recent grads have about the same level of unemployment as the general population. It also suggests that many employed recent grads may be doing work that doesn’t require a college degree.
Even more disturbing, there is no guarantee that unemployed or underemployed college grads will move into much better jobs as conditions improve. Early bouts of joblessness, or starting in a lower-level job with lower pay, can mean lower levels of career attainment and earnings over a lifetime. Graduates who have been out of work or underemployed in the downturn may also find themselves at a competitive disadvantage with freshly minted college graduates as the economy improves.
There are stats like these all over, but the reality is told in stories like that of Luke Stacks. From GOOD:
“Young college graduates are vastly underutilized. They go ahead and complete school and we don’t have anything to offer them once they’re out,” says Sum, referring to the young college graduates who are without work. In the more than 20 years that he’s been studying the issue, Sum says that the current downturn has negatively affected young people the most—and not just in terms of their take-home pay. For some people, the recession has forever altered perceptions of how the world works, creating the impression that success has more to do with luck than with hard work.
For Stacks in particular, the most severe toll hasn’t been a loss of income, but feelings of estrangement and isolation. It’s fair to say that Stacks doesn’t exactly have a lot in common with his coworkers. Many are still in high school. Most of the older ones haven’t gone to college. In general, Stacks veers away from conversations about his education or the number of degrees he has acquired, worried that they’ll think less of him because of it—or worse, think that he thinks he’s better than they are.
There are plenty of stories like that to go around. That’s why we’re doing what others are doing by trying to solve a problem. For those in Luke Stacks’ situation, as well as those who have jobs but don’t feel fulfilled. We want students and recent grads to feel self-worth and confidence in reaching for their dreams.
That’s why we’re doing this.
Sure, we may be slow to start in coding and have hit some bumps in the road, but this is worth it.