The Class of 2017 are the newly minted graduates, joining millions of other Americans in the working world after more than a decade of schooling.
All the attention from friends, families, and employers has been on the Class of 2017, but hey, let us not forget about their predecessors, the Class of 2016.
At this point, much of the Class of 2016 has been in the workforce for just over a year, and LendEDU wanted to check in on them to see how they were doing.
In order to do this, we have commissioned a poll of 500 four-year college graduates from the Class of 2016 asking them a multitude of questions regarding their experiences so far in the real world.
Full Survey of the Class of 2016, One Year Out of College
1. How long did it take you to get a job after you graduated?
- 49.20% had a job lined up at graduation
- 26.71% took one to three months to find a job
- 11.45% have not been able to find a job since graduating
- 8.84% took three to six months to find a job
- 3.82% took six to 12 months to find a job
2. (Asked to those with a job) Which of the following best describes your current feelings about your current job?
- 43.54% like their job
- 33.79% love their job
- 13.38% are indifferent about their job
- 4.99% dislike their job
- 4.31% hate their job
3. (Asked to those with a job) How many jobs have you held post-graduation?
- 51.02% have held one job
- 30.84% have held two jobs
- 9.07% have held three jobs
- 9.07% have held more than three jobs
4. (Asked to those without a job) Why do you feel that you’ve been unable to get a job?
- 38.55% cannot find openings in their field
- 25.50% have not been able to find a job that they are passionate about
- 13.05% do not have the skills necessary to be hired in their field
- 11.85% do not have a professional network in place to find a job
- 11.04% say they are a poor performer in interview situations
5. How much are you currently earning per year?
- 28.31% are earning between $0 and $25,000
- 22.09% are earning between $35,001 to $50,000
- 20.28% are earning between $25,001 and $35,000
- 12.65% are earning between $50,001 and $75,000
- 11.85% preferred not to say
- 4.82% are earning over $75,000
6. Which of the following best describes your feelings about your earnings?
- 28.92% are not making anywhere near as much as expected
- 26.71% are making just as much as expected
- 24.30% are making a little less than expected
- 11.04% are making a little more than expected
- 9.04% are making much more than expected
7. Which of the following best describes your degree field?
- 25.30% said Education
- 23.69% said Business (e.g. Finance, Economics, Accounting, HRIM)
- 22.69% said Other
- 18.47% said Science, Mathematics, and Engineering
- 9.84% said Liberal Arts and Humanities (e.g. Philosophy, Literature, English)
8. Which of the following best describes your plans moving forward with your current job?
- 34.74% said they would like to stay at their job for at least another year
- 26.31% see themselves building a career at their company
- 20.28% would like to leave now, and are looking for a new job
- 18.67% would like to stay at their job for more than another year
9. (If they answered they would like to leave their current job) Why do you want to leave your current job?
- 50.50% do not get paid enough
- 24.75% do not like their boss or co-workers
- 11.88% are not passionate about their job
- 9.90% say their is not room for mobility
- 2.97% are not prepared for their workload
10. Which of the following best describes your feelings about your first job?
- 46.18% said their education adequately prepared them for their job
- 18.88% said their education under-prepared them for their job
- 18.88% said their education over-prepared them for their job
- 16.06% said their education did not prepare them at all for their job
11. Are you considering going to graduate school to better prepare yourself for your career?
- 73.09% said yes
- 26.91% said no
12. What is your biggest complaint about the real world?
- 41.57% said it is managing finances and paying bills
- 26.71% said it was working and staying on a full-time schedule
- 16.06% said it was having less time to see friends and family
- 15.66% said it was added stress from work
13. Which of the following best describes your feelings about your finances?
- 49% said they left college knowing the basics of personal finance skills
- 27.51% said they left college with substantial personal finance skills
- 23.49% said they left college without basic personal finance skills
14. Have you started building credit?
- 75.70% said yes, they have made an effort to build a good credit score
- 24.30% said no, they have not made an effort to build a credit score
15. Have you started saving for retirement?
- 58.23% said yes, they have started saving on their own or through an employer plan
- 41.77% said no, they have not started saving on their own or through an employer plan
16. Which of the following best describes your current financial situation?
- 69.48% said they do not receive financial assistance from their family
- 30.52% said they do receive financial assistance from their family for things such as rent, food, transportation, etc.
Observations & Analysis
One Year Out of College & the Class of 2016 is Iffy With Finances
A couple of questions resonated from this poll that displayed both the lack of confidence and ill-preparedness from Americans that are one year removed from college. First and foremost, their biggest complaint about the real world is managing finances and paying their bills. This answer received 41.57 percent of the vote, the simple majority; the second choice was working on a full-time schedule, which received 26.71 percent. It is clear young Americans are stressed and scared about handling their finances, and perhaps that is because they received little training in college.
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23.49 percent of respondents that have been out of college for one year said that they left college without basic personal finance skills. In fact, only 27.51 percent said they left school with substantial finance knowledge. One prominent argument is that colleges should spend more of their time (and money!) training their students how to handle their finances for when they enter the real world. If they did do this, maybe new members of the American workforce would not be so intimidated when they saw their bills or a balance sheet.
In terms of other important financial mechanisms, the graduates of 2016 were so-so. 75.70 percent of them have made an effort to build a good credit score, which is excellent. Although, the other 24.30 percent who have yet to build credit should probably start doing that quickly. More Americans one year out of college should be saving for retirement, no matter how young they are. 41.77 percent of them have yet to start saving for their retirement, which is too many of them. Finally, 69.48 percent are receiving no financial assistance from their family. It is a great thing that so many of these young Americans are financially independent, but the 30.52 percent who still rely on their parents for rent, food, and transportation should start weaning off of their mother and father.
Colleges Have Left Young People Somewhat Under Prepared
One of the common themes from this poll was that the respondents felt as though their college or university could have done more to prepare them for the working world. For example, 16.06 percent said their education not prepare them at all for their job, while 18.88 percent said it under-prepared them for their job. Only 18.88 percent thought their college over-prepared them. This can tie into the aforementioned statistic that said 23.49 percent of 2016 graduates left college without basic personal finance skills. For all of the money they receive from attendees, colleges need to start getting their students ready for real world problems and scenarios, rather than racking up awards and recognitions.
What happens when these young Americans feel as though they were not properly prepared to join the workforce? They go back to school, and they accumulate more student loan debt! A whopping 73.09 percent of respondents one year removed from college said they are considering going to graduate school to better prepare for their career. This was one of the most shocking statistics from the entire poll. What is the point of paying upwards of six figures to attend an undergraduate school that is supposed to prepare you for a job when you are simply going to have to go back to school to develop the skills you should have already learned?
To further add to this point, 13.05 percent of respondents said they have not been able to find a job because they do not have the necessary skills to be hired. Colleges are supposed to grow your skills and credentials, not stagnate your development. Not to mention, 11.45 percent of these respondents from the Class of 2016 have yet to even find a job, and their lack of training is certainly partially responsible.
The Class of 2016 Had Ambitious Plans for Their Salary
The last trend we found from this poll was that many that graduated last year believe they should be making more money than they are currently making. First, 28.31 percent are making $0 to $25,000 at their current job, the most populated answer. 20.28 percent are making between $25,001 and $35,000. While 22.09 percent are making $35,001 to $50,000 at their job. These were the three most common answers, and those salaries are to be expected during your first year of work. However, this group of respondents feel like they deserve to be paid more.
28.92 percent of respondents are not making anywhere near as much as they expected, and 24.30 percent are making a little less than expected. Those were the most populated and third most populated answers, respectively. It appears that Americans that have been in the working world for one year had overvalued themselves for whatever reason, but this appears to be adding to the instability in the workforce.
50.50 percent of those polled said they wanted to leave their current job because they are not getting paid enough. This answer was the absolute majority for this question, beating out four other options that were presented to respondents. Additionally, 30.84 percent have held two jobs since graduating, perhaps because they thought they were worth more. It would seem prudent for more young Americans to temper their salary expectations, and instead spend more time developing skills, relationships, and reasons to get paid more at the job that has hired them.
LendEDU conducted this survey in June 2017 using Pollfish. In total, LendEDU collected responses from 500 respondents. All respondents were screened to be four-year college graduates who graduated in the Class of 2016. Respondents were asked to honestly self-report their information and answer all questions with complete honesty. LendEDU financed this poll.