It’s graduation season and while the news is full of depressing stories of young adults with few job prospects, planning to move back in with parents after graduation, the statistics show an improvement.
According to the Associated Press, the unemployment rate for college grads under 25 is lower in 2012 (so far) than in either 2010 or 2011 (ABC News). Perhaps the clouds are clearing for graduates – at least for those who complete their degree by age 25.
Of the over 19 million college students in the U.S., though, about 40% are attending part time. Of the almost 7 million attending community college, it is anticipated that fewer than half will complete an associate’s degree or transfer to a four-year university within six years of enrollment. (US News & World Report; Institute for Education Sciences)
This brings us to the question – who is graduating? Estimates show that in the U.S. this year, over 3 million will graduate high school or earn a GED, over 700,000 will complete an associate’s degree, and over 1.7 million will complete a bachelor’s degree. That’s a lot to celebrate, especially when you know the odds that many of them have had to overcome just to get to school every day.
On the Benevolent site (www.benevolent.net), we feature many people who are pursuing degrees – associate’s, bachelors, certifications – and each one faces incredible challenges along the way towards those goals. Almost none of them reflect the stereotype of the 21-year-old fresh-faced graduate, ready to take on the world. They look like Jean, a 42 year old nursing student who recently interned for the Transit Authority cleaning trains.
They also look like Samantha who is married, works full time as a home visiting aide and goes to community college in the evenings. Despite her young appearance, Samantha is a 26-year-old mother of a three-year-old.
Benevolent’s students are mothers and fathers. They’re studying to be nurses and radiology technicians. They’re studying criminal justice and business. They’re going to school part time while working full- or part-time. They’ve survived cancer, domestic violence, homelessness, and more. They’re not the students the headlines and stories focus on when they’re pondering the fate of this year’s class of graduates.
For us here at Benevolent, these are the learners and strivers with whom we’re most concerned. When a low-income parent succeeds in improving his or her education, getting a better job, and finding increased stability, then the children in that household will have vastly improved chances of achieving in their own rights and landing in a more stable circumstance. When we help adult learners succeed, we help more than one generation of students -- and those triumphant graduations, for us, will have twice the weight.
- megan kashner, founder & ceo