The Student’s PTSD

I was visiting friends at college, helping them with a weekend of relief between end-of-term papers and final exams. Can’t say I miss doing that last December while everyone else bakes Christmas cookies and goes sledding…

It didn’t take much to rally the troops out on Friday. I found myself in a lengthy conversation with the bar’s owner: He has a daughter my age who also has a degree in communication from a good college. She too moved back home and is holding multiple jobs, but not using her degree how she’d like. Not for lack of trying.

Really good conversation with a smart man – it sounded like his daughter is driven and bright. Yet he is helping her along, and struggling with business himself. This is not news to me. This is a small but representative sample from the public sentiment I’m gathering lately. After going through 4 years of intense schooling, grads are in shock when the job market which they enter is a wasteland.

Not to make light of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, but college grads are starting to feel the impact of the market. We emerge from college fully prepared to be thrust into a booming economy, despite the news reports. We are well-trained academic veterans ready for the job pool, but find it dry. Some of us go back to school for something to do. Some prolong their studies to wait it out. Some of us give up and go home to live with the parents. Some of us get part-time jobs down the street, but feel there is a greater purpose for us somewhere. Some of us lose momentum and lose hope. We’re just not sure what to do with ourselves and all of the newly gained knowledge and potential.

We return from university and not all of us are employment heroes. People don’t understand- Our parents wonder why we can’t find jobs and assume, “you’re not trying hard enough.” They feel that we’re frustrated, but tell us we shouldn’t complain. People want to help, but can’t. People don’t comprehend our circumstances, they just want everyone to find employment and everything to be fixed.

I wish I could predict the future, and I wish I had some good advice for emerging grads and those seeking employment. But I really can’t. Sometimes counseling is the only treatment for this sort of disaster.


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