Bonnie Kerrigan Snyder graduated from Harvard in 1987 and was thrown into a sinking economy — and a job market not terribly interested in English majors. Today she’s a family college consultant, and she sees her clients struggling with the same obstacles she ran into post-graduation — only much worse.
Her latest book, “The Unemployed College Graduate’s Survival Guide: How to Get Your Life Together, Deal with Debt, and Find a Job After College,” mines some of the wisdom she picked up in the ’80s and appropriates it for an even bleaker job market.
“I wanted to create a survival guide that took this job crisis seriously. This isn’t advice you’d give to just any generation. This generation is unique in history, and the same rules just don’t apply,” says Snyder, from her home in Lancaster, Pa. “They’re really caught in a double whammy. There’s obviously a recession, but there’s also a demographic crunch going on: There’s just more older people now, and they’re holding onto their jobs much longer.”
Kerrigan’s guide begins with a strong dose of emotional reassurance for post-grads feeling let down by their job status and judged by their parents.
“In my experience, the kids are more aware of the realities than the parents are. Parents are having a hard time adjusting their expectations,” says Snyder. “There is a way Americans have approached college for generations: Choose a school first, discover what you’re interested in while you’re in school and start thinking about a job in your senior year. The stakes are so much higher for these kids, and we need to start thinking about the payoff of this investment a lot sooner.”
The new realities
In her book, family college consultant Bonnie Kerrigan Snyder dissects the outdated wisdom of American higher education. Here is just one example:
Outdated thinking: A college degree ensures financial security.
The new reality: College can be a risky financial investment, and that risk needs to be hedged. A family only has so much money to help launch a child into the workforce. Diverting some of those resources toward a home or starting a business is a better strategy.