Good Economy? Not for all recent college grads

Jack Bernard, a retired SVP with a large national healthcare firm, has worked extensively with hospitals across the nation regarding cost containment and insurance. He was also the first Director of Health Planning for Georgia.

“The rising costs of higher education coupled with the stress of paying student loans are putting increasing pressure on students.” – Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson

The one thing that President Trump constantly emphasizes as a success of his administration is the economy. However, the economy is not good for everyone, even seniors in the stock market. The S&P fell 6.2 percent last year, something Trump never mentions because it was the worst showing in a decade (CNBC,12-31-18).
The ones who arguably may have it the worst are recent college grads in certain fields of study, as described below. Per the Project on Student Debt (2017), 68 percent of US grads have student debt, averaging over $30,000 per grad nationally, as opposed to $29,000 for the state of Georgia as a whole (57 percent of grads with debt). One Georgia private school (Savannah College of Art and Design) even reached close to $40,000 debt per grad.
The Georgia state average is somewhat higher than the $23,400 figure for the 44 percent of UGA grads with debt.
Total student debt is $1.4 trillion nationally (credit.com, 4-21-17). That’s trillion, not billion. Soaring college costs are detailed in an 8-24-18 AJC article that I co-wrote which included this statement:“At public, four-year schools, tuition and fees cost about $9,139 this year. In the 1971 school year, they added up to less than $500 in current dollars.” (CNBC, 6-16-15)
Plus, it is getting hard to find a job unless you are in IT, engineering, healthcare, accounting ,and so forth. (A list of these 25 best jobs and their average pay can be found in US News and World Report ,1-8-19)
Further, many are getting out of school with debts while starting pay is stagnant for certain areas of study. In fact, 40 percent of college grads take first jobs in fields (maintenance, food prep, farming, etc.) that do not require college degree at all, earning $10,000 less per year than other recent grads (CNBC, 6-26-18).
According to a recent piece from Kiplinger (1-29-19) here are the worst fields for new grads based on salary, job satisfaction, and career growth:
Photography
Art
Radio & Television
Anthropology
Graphic Design
Paralegal Studies
Art History
Music
Exercise Science
Religious Studies

The above is not meant to imply that getting a college degree is not cost-beneficial. Only 2.8 percent of college grads are unemployed, versus 8 percent for high school dropouts (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3-16). Plus, in general a college grad makes 84 percent more than someone who has never gone to college (LA Times, 8-5-11).
But many college students may still be encouraged by parents and others to “go with your passion” versus where you can make money when you graduate. Put simply, there may be downsides if you choose to follow your passion versus the dollar bill. However, if you do follow your passion, try to figure out where you are headed long-term and be flexible as the example below illustrates.
My brother, a guitarist with a fine arts degree from UGA, tried the acting world in LA but did not get as far ahead as he desired. However, he is a naturally gifted businessman and started a music LLC (i.e. a business).
He now fronts and books ethnic music bands all over Southern California, playing for some of the biggest names in Hollywood, as well as corporations. He makes very good money and lives in an expensive home.
So, both following your passion and making a good living can be accomplished simultaneously. But it certainly isn’t as easy in this economy as some people imply. Know what you are getting into, rather than being disappointed and frustrated.

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