Four in 10 don't think college prepared them for the real world

Several months removed from spring graduation, the majority of Class of 2014 college graduates are currently working; however, about half (51%) of that group are in jobs that don't require a degree, according to a new CareerBuilder survey. This includes 45% of 4-year degree graduates and 57% of associate degree graduates.

Sixty-five percent of recent college grads are employed, 4% are in internships, and 31% are not working at all, although many in the latter group simply haven't started their job search or are already back in school to pursue a higher degree.

The national survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from August 11 to September 5, 2014, and included a representative sample of 305 college graduates completing either an associate or 4-year degree in 2014. The survey covered graduates' current employment and living situations, views of their college experience, and plans to continue their education.

Employment status of 2014 college graduates

  • In full-time, permanent positions: 36% (49%, 4-year; 25%, associate)
  • In part-time, permanent positions: 17% (15%, 4-year; 18%, associate)
  • In temporary or contract positions: 12% (10%, 4-year; 15%, associate)
  • In an internship: 4% (5%, 4-year; 3% associate)
  • Not working: 31% (22%, 4-year; 39% associate)

Among graduates currently working, 51% said their job is related to their college major. Of those who are not working, only 43% indicate they are currently looking for a job. Salary expectations are modest for most; only 44% expect to make more than $30,000 their first year out of college.

Most recent grads pursuing a higher degree

Continuing education is a factor for many graduates regardless of their current employment status; two-thirds (61%) are already pursuing an advanced degree or plan to do so in the next year: 66% of associate degree earners and 56% of 4-year degree earners.

  • Of those not currently working, 47% say they are pursuing an advanced degree, and 19% say they plan to in the next year.
  • Of those currently working, 43% say they are pursuing an advanced degree, and 17% say they plan to in the next year.
  • Of those graduates who say their current job doesn't require a college degree, 36% say they are currently pursuing an advanced degree, and 22% say they plan to in the next year.

The recent grads most likely to be employed full-time

For many recent graduates, landing a good job remains the top priority. The following is a profile of graduates in full-time, permanent positions broken down by a variety of demographic and behavioral factors:

  • Gender: Women are slightly more likely than men to be in a full-time position (38% vs. 34%); however, they are also more likely to not be working (34% vs. 26%).
  • College major: Health care and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) graduates are slightly more likely to be employed full-time than non-STEM graduates (40% vs. 34%).
  • Student loan debt: Graduates with outstanding student loan debt are slightly more likely to be employed full-time than graduates with no debt (39% vs. 33%).
  • Internships: Graduates who previously held internships are more likely to have a full-time positions than those who have not (32 vs. 21%), and are significantly less likely to not be working at all (21% vs. 38%).
  • Applied for jobs early: Forty-one percent of graduates who started their job search before their spring semester of their senior year are currently employed full-time, compared to 34% who started during the spring or later.
  • Want to make a difference vs. want to make money: Fifty-one percent of grads who say "making a lot of money" is more important in their job than "making a difference" are in full-time positions, compared to 28% of those who think the reverse.

College Is Worth It, All Things Considered

Eighty-seven percent of all recent college graduates say they do not regret their college major, and 89% think going college is worth the investment in the long-run. However, fewer graduates (57%) think college adequately prepared them for work in the real world.

In April, a CareerBuilder/Harris survey found that 57% of employers planned to hire new college graduates in 2014.

Outstanding Loans

Thirty-two percent of graduates said the time it would take to pay off their student loans was among their biggest fears after graduation. Eighteen percent of recent grads have student loan debt of at least $50,000, while 40% have loans totaling less than $50,000. Forty-two% say they've acquired zero student loan debt.

Most Grads Are Not Back in the Nest

The class of 2014 isn't fitting the "generation who never leaves home" stereotype so far. Seventy-one percent are not currently living with their parents. Among those who are, 63% hope to be there for only a year; 37% expect to live with their parents for two years or longer. A third (34%) of these graduates are charged for rent or other household expenses.

What Do Grads Want in a New Job?

Work-life balance trumps all other factors that would make graduates more likely to pursue employment with a particular company.

The company:

  • Provides a good work-life balance: 65%
  • Is well established and growing: 53%
  • Provides good learning opportunities: 51%
  • Is geographically desirable: 45%
  • Gives back to the community: 38%
  • Provides nice perks (catered lunch, concierge services, etc.): 32%
  • Is a leader in technology: 24%
  • Is global: 19%
  • Has a lot of young people working there: 19%
  • Has a fun social media presence: 15%
  • Is a startup: 15%
  • Has a cool website: 8%