College graduation used to be a time of celebration and new beginnings. Most graduates could reasonably expect to graduate with a job in hand or find gainful employment, usually in their field, shortly after turning in their cap and gown. A college education was considered the express ticket to a good-paying job, home ownership, financial security, an eventual executive position, and a comfortable retirement while you were still young enough to enjoy it. A college education was considered the path to the “American Dream.” And for a long time, it was; but today’s college graduates are living a different reality.Graduation woman

College graduation is a rude awakening for most U.S. college students. The average debt load for students graduating with a 4-year bachelor’s degree is $25,000. The additional two to four (or more) years of study required to obtain a graduate degree can increase debt dramatically. It is not unusual for students pursuing medical, legal, engineering or PhD degrees to graduate with $50,000 to $100,000 of debt. Rising college costs certainly play a significant role in the escalating student debt crisis; but our credit economy, inflation, a sense of entitlement, and long-held employment myths that discourage young people from exploring entrepreneurial options have also played a part in rising student debt. Coupled with high unemployment in the post-recession economy, the bright future most students anticipated when they arrived on campus has dimmed considerably.

If they are even able to find jobs — and many are not — many college graduates are taking jobs with no relation to their studies at minimal wages. Earning barely enough to live on, they can expect their life to be shadowed in debt for decades to come. There are solutions, but as Dianne Reum writes a fascinating article posted on The Zoondy Daily, they may be obscured by certain long-held employment myths.