Welcome to the real world.
There is no truer statement for today’s college graduates. Yes, welcome.
The Journal-World has interviewed several college and high school students who are graduating in the next two weeks and the term “real world” continues to sprinkle their comments.
Entering the real world means finding a job and a place to live (or a better alternative to their parents’ house), paying bills, acquiring reliable transportation and a variety of other anxiety-inducing responsibilities.
Today’s grads are starting their careers in the worst economy since the Great Depression. Unemployment has doubled since 1998. The Kansas jobless rate was 7.1 percent in April. The national rate is 9.2 percent, according to a Gallup report this week.
And the job you have been studying for the past four or so years may not be there for you, so you may have to compromise until it is.
Once you get a job, whatever job that is, it may not pay enough to cover all your bills, especially if you live in Douglas County. The Journal-World reported last month that the average Douglas County resident makes about $7,000 less per year than the average Kansan. Per capita income in 2009, the latest year available, was $32,070 in Douglas County. Factoring in rent, transportation, utilities, food and repaying college loans, that $32,000 doesn’t go too far.
Because of their economic hardships, many college grads may find themselves moving back home after commencement. According to a study from the Pew Research Center, about one in eight people age 22 and older have moved back to their parents’ home.
What’s the answer? Personal finance experts likely would suggest limiting your expenses and living within your means. That’s great advice, but not always practical, especially if you have little or no “means.”
Well, graduates, enjoy the ceremony, the parties and the gifts today. Because tomorrow, it’s welcome to the real world.