Home again: The boomerang grads

Annie Kasinecz, 27, lives with her mother in Downers Grove, Illinois. She borrowed $75,000 to earn a degree in advertising and public relations at Loyola University in Chicago. Now working as a project coordinator, she’s lived at home rent-free for four years.  Credit Damon Casarez for The New York Times

The Boomerang Kids Won’t Leave home, predicts the New York Times Magazine. With college loans and low-paying jobs, they can’t afford to pay rent.

One in five people in their 20s and early 30s is currently living with his or her parents. And 60 percent of all young adults receive financial support from them. That’s a significant increase from a generation ago, when only one in 10 young adults moved back home and few received financial support.

. . . Those who graduated college as the housing market and financial system were imploding faced the highest debt burden of any graduating class in history. Nearly 45 percent of 25-year-olds, for instance, have outstanding loans, with an average debt above $20,000. . . . And more than half of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, meaning they make substandard wages in jobs that don’t require a college degree.

The photographer, who lives at home and freelances, was graduated from an art college with $120,000 in debt. 

Alexandria Romo, 28, also a Loyola graduate, earned an economics degree but says she “had no idea what I was doing when I took out those loans” at the age of 18. She borrowed $90,000. Romo wishes she’d been taught about student loans, math and finance before borrowing at 12.5 percent interest. Romo lives at home in Austin and works at a security-guard company. Her dream is to be an environmentalist.

Fidgety boys, sputtering economy

Fidgety boys end up as unemployed men, writes David Leonhardt in the New York Times.

The gender gap in school readiness is wider than the gap between low-income and middle-class kids, researchers say. Boys are more likely to struggle in school, college and the workforce.

By kindergarten, girls are substantially more attentive, better behaved, more sensitive, more persistent, more flexible and more independent than boys, according to a new paper from Third Way, a Washington research group. The gap grows over the course of elementary school and feeds into academic gaps between the sexes.

The gender gap in school readiness is wider than the gap between low-income and middle-class kids, researchers say. Boys are more likely to struggle in school, college and the workforce.

In the last 25 years, the portion of women earning a four-year college degree has jumped more than 75 percent and women’s median earnings are up almost 35 percent. Men’s earnings haven’t risen at all, writes Leonhardt. “Men are much more likely to be idle — neither working, looking for work nor caring for family — than they once were and much more likely to be idle than women.”

Some blame the surge in single-parent families for the “boy crisis.” Girls who grow up with one parent — usually a mother — do almost as well as girls from two-parent families. Boys do much worse.

Others say schools aren’t boy friendly. In elementary school classrooms, fidgety boys are expected to sit still and pay attention to the female teacher.

How college admissions really works

A Princeton video shows how high school students imagine the college admissions process, while The Onion explains how college admissions really works.

At step 1, “admissions officers immediately reject all applicants who have the same first name as anyone they don’t like.”

Step 7: The final decision is made as to who is admitted and who needed just one more extracurricular.

Step 8: Once an applicant is rejected, admissions officers call all other universities and warn them against accepting him or her.

The Onion also looks at what happens four years later in College senior plans 14-month job search.

. . . Ohio University senior Kyle Huber confirmed to reporters Monday that he already has an excruciating 14-month employment search lined up and waiting for him when he graduates this spring.

The marketing major plans to “move to a city where he’ll live with five roommates in a small apartment while hopelessly chasing down leads on unappealing dead-end positions he isn’t qualified for anyway.”

He has “arranged to meet with disinterested alumni from his school working in barely relevant fields, friends’ parents who hardly know him, and career counselors who will probably just direct him toward unpaid internships that, after having applied, he will frustratingly learn are only open to those still attending college.”

The new (sort of like the old) SAT

The Onion lists upcoming changes to the SAT:

In response to accusations of cultural bias, all questions to now only refer to 13th-century Mongolia

Reading comprehension section will test students on their ability to differentiate between the foolhardy Goofus and his more responsible brother, Gallant

Eliminates stress by reminding test takers that whatever college they’re admitted to, they still won’t be able to get a job

Also from The Onion:  The parents of 20-year-old Patrick Tobin have advised their son to devote himself to pursuing an improv comedy education. “Remember, this is an investment in yourself, one that will pay you back many times over,” said his mother, Rhonda.

Europe: Colleges are ‘unemployment factories’

In France, where universities are derided as “unemployment factories,” Xavier Niel has started a computer academy, reports the New York Times. Would-be programmers, who  pay no tuition and will earn no degree, have to be smart. They don’t have to be high school graduates.

The school breaks with the often-rigid methods and philosophy of the government-run education system wherever it can, and Mr. Niel believes it will produce graduates who are more innovative, more employable, more diverse and more useful to the stagnant French economy as a result.

. . . Despite a national jobless rate of nearly 11 percent, as many as 60,000 computer coding jobs are thought to be vacant in France, the government says, for lack of qualified candidates.

A telecom billionaire, Niel completed high school but not college, reports the Times.

Via Edububble, who also links to another Times‘ story on Europe’s overeducated, underemployed young people. Youth unemployment rates for those 24 and younger are 56 percent in Spain, 57 percent in Greece, 40 percent in Italy, 37 percent in Portugal and 28 percent in Ireland, reports the Times. The story starts in Madrid.

Alba Méndez, a 24-year-old with a master’s degree in sociology, sprang out of bed nervously one recent morning, carefully put on makeup and styled her hair. Her thin hands trembled as she clutched her résumé on her way out of the tiny room where a friend allows her to stay rent free.

She had an interview that day for a job at a supermarket.

Méndez has worked without pay for a sandwich chain and a luxury hotel. Unpaid internships are common.

“To gain experience, she was making plans to form a cooperative to study social issues like gender equality and sell reports to public institutions,” reports the Times.  (Good luck with that.)

In the supermarket interview, she learned most other applicants also had high-level university degrees. Méndez was offered a temporary job stocking grocery shelves and running a cash register. The monthly salary of €800 (about $1,080) is just enough to avoid moving back home with her parents.

“Be careful what you wish for,” advises Edububble. “Sure it would be nice if education cost less and there was little or no student debt, but then there would be even more smarty pants with nothing to do.”

Educated and unemployed in Europe

Europe’s “youth unemployment crisis” is “truly terrifying,”  writes Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. Overall, EU unemployment is 12.2 percent, but it’s twice that for would-be workers under 25.  Youth unemployment is 56 percent in Spain and 62.5 percent in Greece. “We’ve never seen a generation this educated also be this unemployed,” Thompson observes. Nearly 40 percent of young people in Spain and 30 percent in Greece are college educated.

youth unemployment 2013.png

The less scary “youth unemployment ratio” — the share of young job seekers divided by the entire population — is 9.7 percent in the EU.  That doesn’t count the young people who’ve given up looking for work, writes Thompson. There are 26 million young”NEETS” (Not Employed, or in Education, or Training) in developed countries, according to the OECD.

The youth unemployment rate in the U.S. was 16 percent in late 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More young Americans (14.8 percent) than young Europeans (13.2 percent) were NEETs in 2011, the last time the OECD issued an estimate. In Italy, 19.5 percent of young people were out of work, out of school and out of luck in 2011, even higher than the numbers in Greece and Spain.

Is 25 the new 15?

Twenty-five is becoming the new 15, argues Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old.

Young people who’ve grown up in a responsibility-free “bubble” don’t know how to find a job, manage money, cook or care for themselves, write Joseph and Claudia Allen. They’ve been socialized by their peers, not by adults.

We’ve done away with “competition (too masculine, I suppose) and real-world feedback (kids need high self-esteem!),” writes Dr. Helen, a psychologist.

Young people spend more time as college students, often taking five or six years to earn a degree. If it’s a non-technical degree — or they never actually complete it — they’re likely to be living at home at 25.

College rush is slowing

“The recession convinced many young American high-school graduates to take refuge in college instead of try their luck in a lousy job market,” reports the Wall Street Journal. But, now fewer high school graduates are going on to college, according to the Labor Department.

On 2012, 66.2 percent of recent graduates enrolled in college:  The share of female graduates enrolling in college declined from 72.3 percent the year before to 71.3 percent. Men, who are lagging in college attendance, declined from 64.6 percent to 61.3 percent.

Some graduates think they can find jobs, though unemployment rates remain high — 34.4 percent for high school graduates who aren’t in school.

I suspect young people are more wary of borrowing for college, especially if they’re not strong students.

Workforce dropouts rise

Discouraged workers are dropping out of the workforce, masking the true unemployment rate. Only 63.3 percent of working-age adults are in the labor force.  Some enroll in community college — or graduate school. Others apply for disability or take early retirement.

Manufacturers are looking for skilled workers in Minnesota, but technical colleges have a hard time filling all the seats in manufacturing programs, even though pay averages $56,000 a year. Factory work has a stigma.

Educated but jobless in China

In the U.S., employment rises with education. In Chinese cities,  young college graduates are four times as likely to be unemployed as those with an elementary education. Why? Graduates want “clean” office jobs and won’t risk their status by taking factory work, even though it pays more. As in the U.S., vocational training is considered low status.