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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Class of '23 has high hopes -- $84,855 -- for post-college pay

Gen Z college students are clueless about the workforce, according to a survey conducted in March, writes Jaime Dunaway-Seale for Real Estate Witch. Students expect to make $84,855 one year after graduation, and say the minimum they'll accept for their first job is $72,580.

That's down from last year, when students believed they'd earn $103,880 a year after graduation.

Hiring is up this year, but average starting pay is $55,911.

"Students’ expectations are even more off-base when it comes to mid-career earnings," she writes. "The average mid-career salary is $98,647, but zoomers anticipate making $204,560 a decade after graduation."

Young people don't lack self-esteem: 70 percent say they're harder working than classmates, and 64 percent think they're smarter.

They also see a degree -- but not experience -- as critical to getting a good job, writes Dunaway-Seale.

Seventy-two percent think majoring in a high-demand field will guarantee them a job immediately after graduation; 61 percent think the degree alone will impress employers, so there's no need to build a resume.

In addition, she writes, 61 percent "think they won’t have to work entry-level jobs because employers will see their potential and offer them senior-level positions right away."

Yet 62 percent see their college social life as more important than academics.

Business majors are "the most delusional" about their future earnings: They expect to make $98,113 a year after graduation, nearly double the average starting salary. Also unrealistic are psychology, liberal arts, and journalism majors.

By contrast, computer science majors "have the most realistic pay expectations, overestimating the typical starting salary by just 12 percent," the survey found.

Future teachers expect to earn $77, 376 and say they won't accept less than $69,113. Did they choose education for the money? The average starting salary for education majors is $44,100.

Eighty percent said they felt they had to go to college, notes Dunaway-Seale. Forty percent now have regrets. Sixty-one percent wish they'd chosen a less-expensive college.

Although half think they'll pay off their student loans in less than five years -- using that inflated salary -- that's unlikely. "In practice, it takes borrowers close to 20 years to pay off student loans."

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