Oct 20, 2013

Putting the Pressure On, Harvard Style

DISCLAIMER: This is written by a stressed upperclassman college student. Take with a generous dose of humor and as many grains of salt as necessary to make it palatable.

Hopefully it doesn't require quite that much, but feel free.
College seniors all over the US (and possibly the world, though I'm not as sure of the higher education culture abroad) are starting to feel the pressure. Whether or not the fall semester has already begun,  one thing is for certain: junior summer is over and, with it, childhood.

More or less.

Starting now, seniors get to vary between stressing about getting all their requirements done, paperwork filled in and submitted, potential thesis kinks worked out, and job applications in until well into the spring semester, around early April, when most folks get a few days (or weeks, depending on final exam schedules) to breathe before a whole new craziness (that of real life) takes over.

Just in case the usual questions from relatives (including from the distant family members you haven't seen or heard from since you were in diapers, but are suddenly cropping up to add to your pressure cooker of nerves) aren't enough to stress you out, Harvard puts the pressure on.

For better, for worse, for everything in between.
In no particular way, but just by virtue of being Harvard.

It's a sad fact that most Americans go to college. A whopping 70% of Americans matriculate at a 4 year college! Less than 2/3 of those graduate and the rate drops to 53% if you add community college students into the mix.

While graduation rates may be slipping across the country, with more and more students requiring 4.5 or 5 years to graduate from 4 year programs (or failing to graduate at all), only 3% of Harvard undergraduates don't graduate.

That said, wouldn't it suck to be part of the 3%?

Assume you did everything you needed to and graduated. Congratulations, whoop-de-doo for you. But don't celebrate yet - just because you graduated doesn't mean you're out of the danger zone yet. You have a degree, that's fabulous for you. But if you're one of the unlucky ones, which make up about half of all recent graduates, you either won't have any sort of job or you'll have a job that doesn't require a degree.

Read: you could have saved your money and time, saved yourself from debt, taken a little vacation, and gotten the exact same job straight out of college. Ouch.

Of Harvard graduates, however, the rate of un- or under-employed still is way too high when you consider the average student debt and time/money/opportunity investment to pursue a degree (uh-oh for the dungeons and dragons concentrators...). However, instead of having only about 50% go on to do what they want, 61% of Harvard graduates get a job. Another 18% go to graduate school, leaving only 21% among the un- and under-employed.

That is, if you assume that everyone who goes to graduate school actually wants to and isn't just prolonging the inevitable Ican'tgetajobohmygoshwhatamIgoingtodowithmyselfandallmydebtdoIreallyhavetomovebackinwithmyparents freakout.

Funny Graduation Ecard: 'I can't wait to move back home with my parents,' said no college graduate, ever.

Okay, so you got a job offer. So you thought that salary didn't look half-bad? Hey, it has five digits. But NO, don't be happy yet - let's take a look at how your classmates stack up. Since passion isn't important beyond the application, 16% of your classmates will go into consulting and 15% will work in finance.

The dollar chasing pays off, when you compare average starting salaries to the national college graduate average starting salary of $44,928. Harvard grads average roughly $60,000 as a starting salary, but that varies a lot by field and is probably too rosy a picture, considering that 72% of the 16% that go into consulting can expect between $70,000 and $90,000 as a starting salary. Finance folks do even better, with 21% bringing in $110,000 in their first year - and some more.

Random aside - if you decide to go into education, your starting salary as a Harvard grad drops to around $30,000. You know, since we appreciate our teachers so much.

So you have a high paying job? So all your state school friends are envious? In the tradition of never settling, here's something to chew over: Harvard has produced 2,964 alumni worth $200 million or more, including 52 billionaires, putting it at the top of the academic 'rich list' in the world. Still think your job prospects measure up?

Then again, only 8% of Harvard's wealthy alumni are women. So no pressure, I guess.

Unless you're a feminist.

Some other interesting stats: at least 40% of Harvard students have had some mental health concern during their time at Harvard. And, on a more light-hearted note, almost a third of us will graduate as virgins.

What, is the library not a good pick-up spot anymore? Teehee.

What are your post-graduation goals?

When did you start your job search?

What was your first post-graduation job?

1) Dropping Out of College and Paying the Price - Eduardo Porter, NYTimes.com
2) Harvard College Admissions Website
3) Harvard tops graduate 'rich list' of colleges that will make you a millionaire but University of Virginia has highest number of self-made men - Sara Smyth, Mail Online
4) Average Harvard Graduate Will Make $60,000 In Their First Job, And Other Crimson Trivia - Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge
5) Class Of 2013's Starting Salary Tracking Higher On Average Than Last Year's Grads' - Huffington Post Business'
6) The Class of 2013 Student Survey - Harvard Crimson


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