The NY Times Online followed up Many With New College Degree Find the Job Market Humbling (see And Now That You’ve Graduated) with The Downsized College Graduate, seven op-ed articles with reader comments debating “reasons besides the economy to explain why today’s group is different.” One explanation is that it’s your own damn fault:
[S]ome older readers cited factors other than the economy for the drop in the number of new graduates in the work force: that young people have a sense of entitlement, were sheltered by their parents, and partied through college. Or, if they worked automatons, they took no risks, expecting to be rewarded no matter what.
Richard Arum, co-author of Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses,” (see Not Getting What You Pay For), offers reasons neatly summarized by the title of his piece, Aimless, Misled, and in Debt:
- “[P]ronounced and unprecedented” indebtedness
- Young adults who “are highly motivated, but often directionless.” They are “‘drifting dreamers’ with ‘high ambitions, but no clear life plan for reaching them.’ Indeed, more than a third of college graduates in our study reported that they aspired to own their own businesses, even though there was little evidence that entrepreneurial skills were being developed.”
- Lest you think Arum lays all blame on this cohort’s character, he states “colleges and universities are implicated in the difficulties that graduates are facing, since not only did they fail to ensure that college students experienced rigorous academic coursework associated with the development of higher order cognitive skills, but, more troubling, they typically have abandoned responsibility for shaping and developing the attitudes and dispositions necessary for adult success.”
Other contributors have different perspectives. Overall the articles and comments are provocative. They are worth the time as you sit in the coffee shop reading your laptop with other under-employed graduates.