College grads are sad, jobs report says

55 percent of college graduates are not engaged with their work, a new Gallup survey says.  Fuse Images
Fifty-five percent of college graduates are not engaged with their work, a new Gallup survey says.
Credit: Fuse Images

If you’re a college graduate and unhappy at work, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re outpacing your peers without degrees in the disengagement category, per a new study conducted by Gallup.

According to the study, which surveyed 150,000 adults at various ages, college graduates whose highest educational attainment is a bachelor’s degree say they’re less engaged at the office (emotionally disconnected from work and the workplace) than peers who completed some or no college at all.

The numbers tell all: Fifty-five percent of graduates are not engaged, whereas people who finished some college edged in slightly lower at 50.2 percent. This is in comparison to the 48.2 percent of workers whose schooling ended at high school. Not all occupations are created equal: The highest engagement for college grads was in managerial and executive roles, while transportation workers were the least engaged.

So what gives? Is there a breakdown in higher education or the transition from backpack to briefcase? Can the numbers be attributed to half of recent graduates working in jobs that don’t require a degree, as a 2012 Gallup/Lumina Foundation poll found?

Perhaps grads’ expectations fall flat or there is something broken with the process. Gallup certainly thinks so.

Brandon Busteed, head of Gallup Education states in a press release, “This is not a statement about liberal arts, it’s not a statement about community college, it’s literally about higher education in general — there’s something about the process and the experience that is preventing graduates from getting to a place where they’re doing what they’re best at.”

Hobbies can make you happier

Another theory reflects upon the state of the job market. Richard Mendelson of Dynamic IO Consultants explains that this may be a sign of the times. “Individuals can very quickly become caught up in working in a field or position that does not make them happy in order to earn a livable wage or to develop their experience in order to grow as a professional.”

His advice to boost happiness? Get a hobby and participate in activities for enjoyment after work. He says this will lead to a more balanced approach to life and helps in “making time spent at work more bearable.” It will also help people to feel that “work is not the end-all and be-all of who they are.”


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