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College Grads Overestimate Their Starting Salaries by $50,000: Survey


If you’re in college and expect to earn decent money after graduation, a new study shows you’re probably in for a rude awakening.

The study, conducted by real estate data company Clever, surveyed 1,000 undergraduate students about their financial situation, college experience, and the job market. 

Results showed that 88 percent of students graduating this year expect to make nearly $104,000 in their first job when, in reality, their average starting salary will be $55,000. 

Overoptimism about salaries extends to mid-career earnings. Students hope to make over $200,000 in 10 years — a 93 percent increase on their starting salary expectations.

These lofty expectations are a fairly new development, economist Danetha Doe at Clever told Fortune. Over the years, inflation has far outpaced wage hikes.  

“They’re asking for more, so they can enjoy the financial comfort other generations have been able to afford,” she remarked, though most will have to settle for far less. 

Journalism Students ‘Most Delusional’

High salary expectations are held among students in all fields, but those pursuing journalism and liberal arts “are the most delusional” about compensation standards. 

Journalism students expect over $107,000 within a year after graduation — 139 percent more than the average journalist’s starting salary.

In comparison, at $95,000, computer science majors have the most realistic expectations, overestimating their starting salary by only 27 percent.

85 Percent of Students Don’t Have Jobs Yet

Only 15 percent of students in this year’s graduation batch have accepted a job offer — a majority of which come from in-demand fields such as finance and business.

Among them, only half (51 percent) are satisfied with their starting salaries and 31 percent doubt whether they will make enough to lead a comfortable life after graduation.

However, 44 percent say job hunting has been easy and thanks to a hot job market, students expect to find a job within three months of graduating.

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