Higher Education

They earned a degree and then …

College students don’t work very hard or learn very much, concluded Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa in their 2011 book, Academically Adrift.

How did those students do when they graduated and hit very tough job market? Not well at all, they write in Aspiring Adults Adrift.

Arum and Roksa followed 1,000 graduates for two years. “Fifty-three percent of the college graduates who were not re-enrolled full-time in school were unemployed, employed part-time, or employed in full-time jobs that paid less than $30,000 annually,” they write.

Their earlier book observed that many college students “took easy courses, regarded themselves as privileged customers, socialized heavily, and came away with little to show for their years on campus,” reports Businessweek.

Two years after college, only a little over a quarter of the students had landed jobs paying better than $40,000 a year.

Richard Arum, Josipa Roksa

Many college graduates struggle with the transition to adulthood, write Arum and Roksa in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

One quarter were living with their parents and three-quarters still were receiving financial assistance from parents.

Other measures of adulthood were lacking, such as democratic citizenship. “Two years after graduation, 36 percent of our respondents reported never reading a newspaper in print or online or doing so only once a month; 39 percent reported discussing politics at similarly low frequencies,” write Arum and Roksa.

U.S. colleges need to do a better job improving skills such as critical thinking and complex reasoning, they argue.

Letters

Joanne Jacobs

Joanne Jacobs, formerly of the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, is a freelance journalist who blogs at joannejacobs.com. See Archive

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