From the Editor's Desk

Why your health club receptionist may have her BA degree

It is increasingly likely that the person who scans your groceries or checks you in at your health club may have a BA degree in creative literature.

That's one conclusion from a recent study by the McKinsey management consulting firm, and Chegg, a site for selling used college textbooks. The two firms collaborated on a survey conducted in October and November 2012 with more than 4,900 former Chegg customers. The survey primarily focused on students who graduated between 2009 and 2012.

The big news from the study is that many of the jobs students find themselves in after graduation don’t require a college degree. With that in mind, it is probably not surprising that half of all graduates polled expressed regrets, saying they would pick a different major or school if they had to do it all over again.

In what may be a classic example of 20-20 hindsite, many students polled also said that when they were deciding what college to attend, they didn’t consider graduation rates or the likely job and salary prospects for their chosen field. So it is probably unsurprising that many students polled felt disappointed—many, even those at top institutions, were unable to find work that used their degree specialty.

All in all, says McKinsey, liberal-arts and performing-arts graduates tend to be lower paid, deeper in debt, less happily employed, and slightly more likely to wish they’d done things differently. The only bit of good news is that those who majored in business management or science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields feel readier for the workplace and more satisfied overall.

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