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A Look at the Numbers behind the Class of 2015: Good News and Bad News

If you look at the numbers, there’s the typical mix of good news/bad news for this year’s crop of college graduates. Let’s start with the good news.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, colleges and universities expect to award about 1.8 million bachelor’s degrees. Experts are noting that this class faces the most favorable job climate in years, due to a pent up demand for workers. According to one survey, graduate hiring is expected to increase by 16% or more this year. And the good news doesn’t stop there.

Researchers say that over their lifetimes, college graduates can expect to earn about $1 million more than their non-degreed counterparts. The current unemployment rate for college graduates is 2.7%, half that of the general population (5.4%). The average starting salary for the Class of 2014 was $45,478. Some business surveyed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers plan to offer much higher starting salaries for engineering, computer science and other related majors.

Even the CDC touts good news for college graduates: In general, health experts say, college graduates can expect to live about 9.3 years longer than those who have not attained degrees, and they do so with lower incidence of chronic disease.

So, with such a positive combination of health and income, college graduates seem to have it all. But not quite.

Inside Higher Ed recently reported on a survey that found huge gaps between college students’ perceptions of their preparedness for the working world and what employers actually saw. According to this survey conducted by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, college students consistently rank themselves as more prepared in several key areas — including working in teams and communication skills — than employers do. In fact, the majority of employers in this survey gave low scores to graduates when it came to almost all skills and knowledge “most important to workplace success.” The narrowest gap in student/employer perception was in the category “staying current with new technologies.”

And there’s that lingering topic of student debt. The average student loan debt for the Class of 2015 is now in excess of $35,000. Nearly 71% of those graduating are doing it with some debt. According to the Wall Street Journal, that gives this class the dubious distinction of being the most indebted college class in history, though it’s not likely it will hold that title for long.

For this year’s crop of college graduates, 2015 looks like a good year for job hunting and for learning some important life skills, including budgeting.


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