By Ryan Healy - According to Monster.com, 60 percent of college graduates move home with mom and dad after graduation and the trend is on the rise. The statistic holds true with my friends from the class of 2006. More than half moved back to the suburbs to start adult life, much the same way they ended high school life — with their parents. A lot of people say generation Y needs to grow up and take some personal responsibility and that we have been coddled by our helicopter parents (see the comments section).
But when you look closely, it is glaringly apparent that moving back in with parents is one of the the most responsible things a new college grad can do. By sucking it up at home for a year or two, young people give themselves the opportunity to take control of their career, take control of their finances and transition from the care-free college fantasy world to the real-world of work, marriage, kids, mortgages and car payments.
Take control of your career
To live comfortably in a big city like New York, students are forced to take a high paying, but less than satisfying job. Often, top graduates end up working for the best paying investment bank or law firm. I’m sure you could find a small minority of conservative students who had dreams of becoming an I-banker since middle school, but for the most part these jobs are going to the top tier students who are trying to make a quick buck before they retire at 30 (or so they say).
By moving home after graduation, you have little or no rent which allows for more freedom when searching for a job. There is no need to sell out to an investment bank if your real goal is to work with underprivileged children. Depending on where your parents are located, you are probably missing out on the big city night life and social scene, but you have lots of opportunities to find the perfect job, regardless of pay. If ditching the social scene for career sake doesn’t demonstrate responsibility and independence, I don’t know what does.
Take control of your finances
Real wages today are lower than they were for the past two generations of workers. Couple that fact with today’s insane housing costs and an increase in contract workers not receiving benefits, just getting by on forty or fifty thousand a year in a major city is nearly impossible. Attempting to save any reasonable amount of money the first few years is a joke.
However, moving home with mom and dad will immediately save you about $700 a month in housing costs. At least there is some extra cash flow. In two years, you can save up enough to move out on your own without worrying about going into credit card debt for basic necessities like fixing your car or buying groceries.
Take an appropriate adjustment period between college and the real world
People really do struggle adjusting from college to the real world. A good friend of mine just fulfilled her life long dream of moving to New York. She still loves the city, but she is overwhelmed and doesn’t exactly like her day job. Sure, many people go through this tough transition period, and chances are she will eventually enjoy it, but the transition from child to adult is different, and oftentimes, more difficult for today’s youth.
“This period is not a transition, but an actual life stage, according to Jeffrey Arnett, associate professor at University of Missouri and author of Emerging Adulthood: A Theory of Development from the Late Teens through Early Twenties . Arnett describes the period between college and adulthood as, “a self- focused stage where people have the freedom to focus on their own development.” Notice he calls this period of stage in development and not just a transition between two stages.
So why do we still try to go from adolescent to adult in a matter of weeks or months?
Moving home for a while enables an appropriate and productive transition. Rather than focus on rent, bills and kids, emerging adults living at home with their parents have the ability to focus on the most important aspects of emerging adult life: figuring out who they are and what career is right for them.
Ryan Healy’s blog is Employee Evolution.