Current College Students' Salary Expectations Are Wild

It's certainly a hot job market, but not quite that hot
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2022 11:30 AM CDT
Today's College Kids Expect Lavish Starting Salaries
   (Getty - Paul Bradbury)

(Newser) – Today's college students have super high expectations when it comes to starting salaries, per CNBC, which cites a recent online survey by Real Estate Witch. The 1,000 undergrads it surveyed expect to rake in $103,880 to start. The reality looks pretty different: That figure is about $50,000 more than what the average starting salary for the class of 2022 is expected to be. Then again, majors matter. Starting salaries for computer sciences and engineering hover around $75,000 (and their expectations were closer, at $95,000), whereas humanities majors will pull in around $50,000.

The labor market probably explains a lot, per CBS Pittsburgh, which notes that the expectation gap was just $11,000 three years ago, with an expectation of about $58,000 versus an actual average of $47,000. "I think they're feeling optimistic at this point. They recognize there is some demand in a lot of fields, and they’re excited about the possibilities," said Professor Dorene Ciletti of Point Park University. National Association of Colleges and Employers researcher Mary Gatta told CNBC that the survey may reveal the need for better career counseling, especially when it comes to differences between professions.

Indeed, CBS Pittsburgh notes journalists and communications majors had the most off-base assumptions, per the survey, expecting starting salaries of $107,000 when the average is actually $45,000. Fortune notes that even with the six-figure expectations, 31% of respondents don't think they'll make enough to live comfortably upon graduation. As for where they'll be 10 years into their career, the optimism continues. Survey respondents pegged that salary at about $200,000; per the survey, the average mid-career salary sits at $132,497. (Read more salaries stories.)

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