Almost Half of College Grads in Jobs That Don’t Require A Degree – May 2013 Study

A May 2013 Forbes article reports some chilling employment numbers for recent college grads. I took the article and condensed it down to a set of easy-to-read bullet points. The article author’s son is looking to go into either the visual arts or social sciences, which is why they’re emphasized in this report.

How many grads are working in jobs that do NOT require a 4-year degree?

  • Nearly half of four-year college grads
  • Public universities grads are 11% more likely to feel overqualified than those who went to private schools.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: 48% of employed U.S. college grads are in jobs that require less than a four-year degree.
  • In 2011, 1.5 million, or 53.6% of college grads under age 25 were out of work or underemployed

Grads who got jobs in their field that required a 4-year diploma:

  • STEM grads: 75%
  • Visual and performing arts: 43%
  • Social science: 54%

What percent of college grads feel school failed to prepare them for the working world?

  • 33% of all grads
  • visual and performing arts students: 42%
  • Social science grads: 36%

What about college grads who got real-world experience?

  • 77% of graduates of the top 100 four-year programs who worked part-time, did internships or employee mentorships felt prepared for work, compared with 59% who lacked such experience.

Given the chance, how many would’ve picked a different career:

  • 50% of all grads
  • visual and performing arts majors: 47%
  • Social science majors:  39%.

Colleges Grads that couldn’t find jobs in their chosen field:

  • 40% of “top 100 school” grads
  • Social science grads: 36%
  • Visual and performing arts grads: 42%.


  • a “top 100” school grad will earn 17%-19% more than students from other schools.

College grads working in retail that didn’t plan to:

  • Six times as many graduates are working in retail or hospitality as had originally planned.
  • 1.7 million grads getting a bachelor’s degrees this year translates into 120,000 young people are working as waiters, Gap salespeople, and baristas because it was the only work they could find.

See the original article for the definition of “top 100” school, and the rest of the article.


Want to see if a college degree is worth it? Consult this 2014-2015 listing of entry-level and mid-career salaries for various careers here.


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About A Northern Observer

Joe Random Guy who lives north of a lot of things. My image is from the National Archives - Battle of Britain - Aircraft spotter on the roof of a building in London. St. Paul's Cathedral is in the background. 306-NT-901B-3.

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