April 11 is shaping up to be a day when all Hades breaks loose.
Tag: college graduates
University of Baltimore Asst. Prof. and Bohemian Rhapsody Columnist Marion Winik welcomes her second grown son back home with open arms and a long list of suggestions.
Are you are a member of the elite group of young people who completed their undergraduate studies last May? If, in addition to passing your classes, you returned your library books and paid your parking tickets, you are now the proud owner of a college diploma. And there it is — tacked between a faded Tony Hawk poster and a stolen street sign on the wall of your childhood bedroom.
Like so many of your peers, you have moved back home. The way things are going, this return to the nest may last quite a while. Here are some things to consider as you navigate this tricky situation.
Today, the New York Times reports on a study showing that “a centrifugal force… is concentrating the nation’s college graduates into a set of metro areas” — and, as a consequence, leaving others behind.
First things first: know that Baltimore, a city dominated by its education industry, is benefiting from this trend. A full 35 percent of residents in the Baltimore-Towson region have a college degree, up nearly 25 percent from 1970. That puts us in the top-15 of cities nationwide. And, as the Times reports, cities where college graduates cluster tend to reap the benefits of longer life expectancies, higher average incomes, and fewer single-parent families. Ideally, this is a rising-tide-raises-all-boats situation: More college graduates leads to higher regional income, which in turn results in a higher tax base and better public services.
But (of course) there’s a dark side to the success that cities like Baltimore, DC, San Jose, and Boston have seen — and it looks like Dayton, Ohio.
As college grads increasingly cluster in certain regions and avoid others, certain cities get left behind. Forty years ago, Dayton and Chicago’s populations had similar rates of college graduation; these days, that gap has widened significantly — and Dayton is just one of the rust belt cities that’s feeling the negative effects.
It can be strange to look at a list like this one and see Baltimore held up as a place that’s doing things right, when our city’s name so often gets used as shorthand for “crime” or “urban decay.” But the New Republic is encouraging residents of Dayton and other areas moving down the educational-attainment ladder to look to places like Baltimore and Pittsburgh as models. Our economy was hit hard by the loss of manufacturing, an economic whammy that the city’s still recovering from. But because those losses happened earlier than the rust belt’s subsequent collapse, Baltimore (and Pittsburgh and Charlotte, etc.) have had more of a chance to rebuild economies based around things like health, higher education, and technology. No one’s arguing that it’s been easy, or that the transition is complete. But Baltimore’s long-term economic transition has been going on for a while — and it seems that finally, people are noticing that we’re doing something right.
“When people ask, ‘What do you want to do when you graduate?’ I feel like yelling, ‘Whatever I can do for whoever will hire me,’” Towson University senior Maria Malagari told the Towson Towerlight. She’s hardly alone; this year’s soon-to-be college grads are entering a job market that should make the rest of us grateful that we’re not members of the Class of 2012. (And if you are — sorry!) According to a recent study commissioned by the Associated Press, half of young college graduates are either un- or under-employed. Job prospects for young people with bachelor’s degrees are at the lowest level in more than a decade.
The AP’s analysis of government data is one of the first to take into account the problem of underemployment — that is, when grads have some sort of way to earn money, but not one that employs their skills or offers promise of future advancement. With tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, twenty-somethings feel lucky to get a job as a barista or retail clerk.
Of course, it’s not equally bleak for everyone. Those graduating with degrees in nursing, teaching, accounting, or computer science have much stronger prospects than arts or humanities grads. And suddenly, the time-honored wisdom of going to college in order to snag a high-paying job stops seeming quite so logical. “You can make more money on average if you go to college, but it’s not true for everybody,” says Harvard economist Richard Freeman. However, “If you’re not sure what you’re going to be doing, it probably bodes well to take some job, if you can get one, and get a sense first of what you want from college.” Most of the careers with the largest projected job growth over the next decade don’t require a college degree.
Back here in Baltimore, the soon-to-be Class of 2012 at Towson remains (nervously) undaunted. “I’m going to keep researching and applying to jobs no matter how many rejections I get,” Malagari told the Towerlight. “I’m still hopeful. I know something will open for me soon.”
A new study at bizjournals.com ranks Baltimore 15th out of 385 metropolitan cities rich in young brain power, with 30.2 percent of our population between 18 and 34 in possession of a bachelor’s degree or higher. We love this uplifting concrete news, though it doesn’t exactly surprise us given how many stellar colleges and universities there are to be found in and around our town. We remember, too, that in 2009, The Daily Beast named Baltimore the 10th smartest U.S. city, based on education and intellectual environment, and in 2010 kept us rated high but dropped the ranking to 20th.
We personally know gobs of brainy young scientists, men and women who build robots, youthful people dedicated to cancer research, precocious scribes publishing first novels and poetry collections, painting wonderful murals, teaching disadvantaged kids to read and think for themselves and make music. But we also feel the pinch when our pals in D.C. tease us for being one of the fattest cities in the nation–we ranked 8th most overweight metro in Men’s Health in 2010. We greatly regret our frequently assigned “Murder Capital” nickname. And we can’t help but notice that many Baltimoreans we know, often the most well educated and insightful among them, tend to psychoanalyze our town as a victim of low city-self-esteem; we have to agree that Baltimore does occasionally seem to slouch in the tall, sharp shadow of our nation’s capital, and apologize for itself rather than find something to brag about. (D.C. in fact ranks number one for youthful brain bounty, by the way, with 38.8 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds holding college and graduate degrees.) And that’s a shame when there’s so much to celebrate locally.
Here’s an idea. The next time you feel like making a city-deprecating reference to the racist hillbilly population still residing in pockets of the city, or to the nutty thugs who seem hellbent on striding into your speeding car as they cross the street, or the abundant addicts who swear they just need a dollar to buy a bus pass home, try this cognitive-therapeutic exercise: Lose the bad hackneyed news, stand up straight, and remind yourself and your dinner guests that we’re also a city powered by vibrant youthful intellect. In coming decades, our best and brightest seem likely only to grow older and wiser, and our complex city that much prouder, stronger, and, who knows, maybe even physically fitter, in the educated bargain.
Not that I’m regretting dropping four years’ tuition into a bachelor’s degree from a top art college, but why did I choose to major in illustration rather than….creative ways to sell stuff? For the past four years I’ve been telling myself, “Don’t worry, you’ll have a job waiting when you graduate.”
Seems the only places hiring are marketing and sales firms. As soon as I put my resume on Monster and Career Builder, my email and phone lines were flooded with recruiters looking for new grads aspiring to be telemarketers. I guess you should take what you can get, but for someone who’s not a “people person,” calling strangers during dinnertime and pestering them to buy something they don’t need not only seems like a poor use of my degree, it’s not physically doable.
I’ve zoned out for hours surfing the web for design jobs, since I have a couple of great graphic design classes under my belt. The catch is that 99 percent of the graphic design jobs posted require knowledge of web design. I guess the average Corporate Joe wouldn’t realize it, but graphic design and web design are two different things. Just the other day I went to an interview for a “part time graphic design with maybe some writing” job. Immediately they told me they wanted someone to build their website and edit video footage. Where did that come from? It says nowhere on my resume that I build websites or have video experience.
Surely, the jobs are out there. It’s just a matter of finding one to which you can apply your hundred thousand dollar degree. For artists, it’s ten times the battle. I can dedicate myself to being a freelance illustrator, without the security of a steady income or reliable clients, but I’m looking for something permanent. I wish my school officials had told me freshman year, if you want to make money with a Bachelors of Fine Arts, you need to learn web design. Or figure out how to cold call people and talk them into magazine subscriptions.