According to a recent Orient survey, the average starting salary for graduating seniors who have found employment was $42,339. This figure is slightly above the national average for recent graduates of $41,701, as reported by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
College graduates' difficulties finding employment were highlighted by an Associated Press report last week that said that about 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor's degree-holders under the age of 25 were jobless or underemployed last year.
The survey was emailed to all seniors, 214 of whom replied. Of those, 84 percent are currently seeking or have successfully found paid post-graduate employment; the other 16 percent are pursuing other opportunities, such as graduate school. Of those entering the labor market, 57 percent have found employment, while 43 percent are still looking.
Thirty percent of respondents reported that they will graduate with student loan debt.
The average reported indebtedness was $25,895; the median was $20,000. One student reported $200,000 in debt, the highest figure reported. The lowest was $2,000.
U.S. News and World Report reports that the average indebtedness of the Class of 2010 was $18,229, the most recent year for which it has available data.
Student debt has been a hot topic across the nation as President Barack Obama, seeking re-election, has urged Congress to stop federal student loan interest rates from doubling from 3.4 to 6.8 percent in July, as previously scheduled.
The 2012 graduating class is the first to feel the impact of changes made to Bowdoin's student aid process in 2008.
In 2008, the College removed the $4,000 loan that was previously a mandatory component of all financial aid packages. That money was instead added to the grant total the College provides.
According to Stephen Joyce, director of student aid, this means that approximately 40 percent of students on aid do not take out any loans over the course of their four years at Bowdoin.
"Where 100 percent of financial aid recipients had loans...now only 60 percent have loans," said Joyce. "We think that's pretty great."
"They can make good choices about careers about their first job, about graduate school, without letting debt steer their career choices," he said.
Joyce said that student debt levels, overall, have changed little as a result of the changes to the aid program.
"Of those students who borrow, they borrow about the same—it's $15 or $16,000 of federal loans over their four years...It's going to be in the low 20s if you look at all the borrowers in the class," he said.
"Of all the graduates, whether they were on aid or not, roughly a third of them took a loan at some point," Joyce said.
Compounding post-graduate worries, many students have expressed dissatisfaction with the Career Planning Center's guidance to students seeking jobs outside of finance.
"I would love to find work, but as someone who has zero interest in working in the financial sector, it's really hard," wrote one unnamed student in the survey. "Those are the jobs that I feel Bowdoin and the CPC pushes on the senior class," she wrote.
"The Career Planning Center is not as helpful as you might think it is," wrote another unnamed senior. "I would think that they would have access to better resources. I feel like they are especially lacking in connections outside of the East Coast."
"I think the CPC gets a bad rap," said senior Amanda Gartside, who will work at Goldman Sachs after graduation. She told the Orient in a phone interview, "I think they really do a good job with consulting and finance. Other professions don't have as strict a timeline and program; I think it seems to be harder for Career Planning to help people with those kinds of things."
"I think they really have to work on being more active," said Ronnie Ricks '12, who is currently seeking a job, in a phone interview. "If you're not a 4.0, it's a lot harder than they make it out to be. I'm a first generation college student, so...you're going to have fewer connections."
Director of Career Planning Timothy Diehl urges students to remain positive and continue to aggressively engage in job hunting.
"The main message I'd send to seniors at this point is there is still another month before you're fully off the campus," he said. "Take advantage of the resources and advice while you're here."
Said Diehl, "I think our students have done very well despite the economic downturn. Students that are engaged I think are doing reasonably well in the process." The Career Planning Center has yet to conduct a survey of current seniors, however, and was thus unable to provide quantitative insight.
Diehl emphasized that industries hire at different times.
"The hiring process for many industries is really reaching its peak or start at this point," Diehl said. "In particular, the areas of education; many nonprofit jobs; and arts, communications positions, tend to hire very close to the start date. Those are the opportunities that are now appearing for students in those fields."