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American College Students Have Unrealistic Salary Expectations

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The average American college student has an unrealistic expectation of how much money they will earn after graduating, a new survey commissioned by Clever Real Estate and conducted by Pollfish found.

Pollfish surveyed 1,000 college undergraduates about their salary expectations, using organic sampling from May 22 until June 4.

The survey found that the average undergraduate expects to make $57,964 after graduation. However, the national median salary is a $47,000 for bachelor’s degree holders with zero to five years of experience.

Business students were deemed the most “delusional majors” of all, expecting early-career salaries 31 percent above the national median, while students with engineering and humanities degrees had more realistic expectations about their salaries. Nursing and computer science students actually underestimated the value of their degrees.

As students progress through college, their salary expectations also start to become more realistic. Freshmen and sophomores expect to earn nearly $59,875, while seniors often expect $56,168.

Women also expect smaller salaries in comparison to their male counterparts, despite pursuing the same major. On average women expect to earn about $4,300 less than men after college, with differences in expectations most profound in male-dominated fields like economics, engineering, finance, and accounting.

Men expected an early career salary of average $60,459 across all majors, while women expected $56,121.

The survey found that women expect higher salaries in fields that are not dominated by men, such as nursing, life sciences, communications, and journalism.

When it comes to the motivation behind getting a degree, Generation Z sees earning more money throughout their career as the number one reason. Competitive salaries, company-paid insurance plans, a fun work environment, flexible time, and unlimited PTO are the most popular employee benefits among them.

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