‘Life After College’ Author Jeff Selingo: ’50 Percent Of Recent College Graduates Are Under-Employed’

Students at Howard university April 11, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Author Jeff Selingo appeared on Friday’s edition of Breitbart News Daily to talk about his new book, There Is Life After College: What Parents and Students Should Know About Navigating School to Prepare for the Jobs of Tomorrow.

Host Stephen K. Bannon said today’s young people are looking at “a pretty bleak future,” in which the “participation-trophy generation” learns that made-to-order careers are not waiting for them after the graduate college, as they were told to expect all their lives.

“Kids hate capitalism, because capitalism ain’t working for them,” as Bannon put it, capturing the sense of disillusionment that prompted so many young people to strike up a romance with socialism.

“No doubt about it,” Selingo agreed. “The basic problem now is that almost 50 percent of recent college graduates are under-employed. They’re in jobs that don’t even require a bachelor’s degree.”

This leads to the sense among graduates that the gigantic pile of debt they accumulated going to college was a waste of money – and yet, the system requires them to make that lopsided transaction, because as Selingo noted, “a bachelor’s degree is kind of the entry point to any job, not just the top-paying jobs that it used to be.”

“What, basically, they were told essentially since they were young is that you go to college, and you’ll have a successful career, a successful life, and you’ll get a job,” he said of the millennial generation.  

And that’s not happened to them.  Not only that, but they paid a fortune for college in some cases, as you mentioned. On average, they’re coming out with about $30,000 debt, of those who take on debt, and they can’t find a job. In some cases, they’re even dropping out of college before they get that degree – and in those cases, they don’t have any credential to show what they just paid for, and they still have to pay those loans off.

In There Is Life After College, Selingo advises that “it doesn’t depend on where you go, it depends on what you do while you’re there.”

You have to get out of the classroom. You have to get off-campus, to do projects and work on internships. You have to be focused on both work and school at the same time, because it’s those students that end up doing best after college.  If you’re just going to go to college and sleepwalk through college – perhaps show up for classes when you want to, skate through the easy courses and get a degree – you’re not going to have a successful career afterwards.

“Especially at this time of year, when most parents are thinking about just getting their kids into college – it’s really about how they go, not just if they go,” he emphasized.

Selingo noted that bypassing college to take up work in the skilled trades “is not a popular opinion these days.”  There is a heavy social stigma associated with failing to attend college.

“It’s a cultural thing,” he said. “You don’t want to tell someone at a cocktail party that your kid’s not going to college.  So everybody sends their kids off to college – mainly because there’s nothing else to do, once you get out of high school.  The military is a declining option, and there’s not trades – you can’t enter the trades like you used to, right after high school.  No one encourages that in high school.  There’s a college-going culture in high school.”

“We need more pathways after high school – many of those blue-collar jobs still exist,” he said.  “You need some sort of education, though.”  

For example, he noted that even farm tractors are typically equipped with multiple computer systems today. “You actually need some sort of education to repair that tractor, but you don’t need a four-year degree, and you don’t need to go to a residential college and go $30,000 into debt to do that.”

Selingo’s book, There Is Life After College, is available from bookstores and Amazon.com, and also from his personal website.  He also has a number of speaking engagements, on both East and West Coasts, scheduled in the coming weeks.

Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00AM to 9:00AM EST.

You can listen to the full interview with Jeff Selingo below:


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