If you want to get a really good job, go to college and get a degree. At least that’s the advice countless guidance counselors have given countless high school juniors countless times in countless schools.

But now, that advice is ringing hollow for most of the estimated 1.25 million bachelor’s degree holders hitting a job market that lacks one essential thing: enough good jobs for all of them.

True, this year is looking a bit better than 2009’s prospects. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported last year that hiring for college grads would fall by 21.6 percent during the depths of the recession.

This year, NACE says the rate will rise 5.3 percent — an improvement, but not one that will restore all the lost opportunities from the year before.

One facet of the market didn’t improve, however. Nearly half the firms in this year’s survey said they were cutting their recruitment budgets, so they will send out fewer representatives to colleges for interviews and participate in fewer on-campus job fairs.

So grads seeking work, especially those from smaller schools, will be on their own in the job hunt more often than they were last year.

While hard numbers about job-finding in this demographic are difficult to come by, some estimates say that as many as four out of five graduates will either not find a job or be forced to take one that either does not fit their college speciality or does not require a cRollege degree. Thus, the combined unemployment/underemployment rate for this year’s graduates will approach 80 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated.

Does that mean seeking a degree isn’t worth either the time or the expense? Not at all. These numbers, remember, are a reflection of the current recession. Things can be expected to improve along with the economy’s recovery, which is predicted to be slow but steady over the next few years.

Holders of college degrees, even if they are not fully exploiting them in the work force now, will have more opportunities opening up to them as the job market recovers.

A college degree is an investment in the future. Even if it doesn’t pay off now, the odds are high that it will increase in value over the span of a full career far more than the education of someone who doesn’t go to college.


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