For friends and relatives of newly-minted college grads, these last few weekends have been a time for celebration and anxiety. 2010 graduates face grim job prospects and ultra-competitive grad-school admissions rates. At the same time, they belong to a generation viewed as having unrealistically high expectations. Despite all this, there are signs the economy is brightening. Just how stark are the prospects for this new class of diploma holders?

Pretty Bad

  • 2010 Job Pool Already Crowded by 2009-ers Talk of the Nation on NPR reports the bad news. "When much of the class of 2010 entered college, the economy was booming. But hopes for an easy job search have fizzled as graduates enter the weakest job market in decades. They're competing with last year's graduates still on the hunt, and with more experienced workers displaced in the recession."
  • Unprepared to Work A study also reported by NPR finds that recent college graduates get very low marks in professionalism from human resources workers. Dave Yolk, a professor quoted in the story, says that "What we found, was that there are a set of qualities, characteristics that these people would like to see in new college graduates...Unfortunately, they tend to be lacking. There's a sense of entitlement that we've picked up on. Where people think they're entitled to become, let's say president of the company, within the next two years. They're entitled to five weeks of vacation"
  • Still Coddled by Parents? A New Yorker piece by Patricia Marx offers satirical gift advice for parents of homebound college graduates. The intent is humorous, but the gift choices clearly play off of the stereotype of this generation having been raised somewhat extravagantly. Suggestions include an $89 Lands' End washable jacket and $340 Princeton- or Yale-themed cufflinks.

Could Be Worse

  • At Least They're Optimistic Judith Warner of the New York Times writes that even those without jobs "they didn't blame themselves if life failed to meet their expectations. They didn't call into question their choices or competencies. It was as if all the cries of 'Good job!' they heard as children armed them against the repeated blows of frustration and rejection now coming their way. ... Or maybe having a bulked-up ego really does serve as a buffer to adversity. Just like the self-esteem gurus always said that it would."
  • Better Job Odds Than Previous Grads  Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times writes "This spring's college graduates face better job prospects than the dismal environment encountered by last year's grads. But that doesn't mean the job market is thriving."
  • Clearly Have a Sense of Humor  Simon Rich, son of New York Times columnist Frank Rich and a 2007 college graduate, writes a satirical guide for parents in The New Yorker. He models it off of baby books: "What do I do if my college graduate cries? What do I do if he screams?

College graduates are setting foot in the real world for the very first time. Imagine how daunting that must be! They have so many daily needs, and yet they lack even the most basic tools required to survive in the world."