The Boomerangers: Why More College Grads Are Moving Back Home
by Alexandra Churchill | University of New Hampshire
When Chelsea Collier collected her diploma in the spring of 2010, she had big plans to make it in the film industry. She graduated summa cum laude from Boston University with a degree in film and television. With an impressive resume, solid references and a handful of internships under her belt, she was sure she would score a job on the West Coast before the summer was over.
But flash forward two years later and her plans have changed. At 24 years old, she lives at home with her mother and two sisters in a modest apartment in Andover, Massachusetts.
“I thought I had a clear vision of what kind of career I wanted and how I wanted to go about going after it,” she said. “But moving back in with my mom made sense at the time and you have to adapt in this kind of economy.”
Collier is part of the “Boomerang Generation,” a name given to the scores of young adults who are moving back in with mom and dad post-graduation. Unable to find jobs in an economic downturn, more and more college graduates are returning home.
According to a Pew Research Center report, the highest number of young adults are moving back home since the 1950s. In fact, last year, eight out of 10 graduates moved back home, according to a poll conducted by consulting firm Twentysomething Inc.. Some enrolled right into graduate school, others criss-crossed the country desperate for work.
Meanwhile, 54 percent of young adults under the age of 25 moved back home, hoping against hope for an economic turnaround.
“The rise in the boomerang phenomenon illustrates the effect the recession and the weak economy are having on young adults,” said Kim Parker, a senior researcher at Pew and the author of the study to The Christian Monitor. “Young adults were hit particularly hard in the job market and are having to delay reaching some basic financial milestones of adulthood because of this.”
Sam Dreyer, a recent graduate of George Washington University, said moving back home with mom and dad was a smart solution to pinching pennies in a tough economy and an even tougher job market.
“It’s hard, because when you first graduate, you want to get out into the world,” he said. “But you start to realize that there are bills to pay and loans hanging over your head, and sometimes you have to just buckle down and do what’s best financially.”
Of those living at home, some 78 percent say they’re feeling optimistic about their living arrangements, according to the Pew study, and 24 percent say it’s even been good for their relationships with their parents.
Jaime Bennett, a 2009 graduate from the University of Vermont, said after she moved back to her hometown of Tilton, N.H., the once-rocky relationship she had with her mother became a close friendship again.
“My Mom and I fought constantly in the couple of years prior to me going off to UVM,” Bennett said. “But since I moved back in, we’ve had the time to get to really know each other again and just be friends again. I think it’s been better for the both of us.”
Bennett said she now works for her mother’s accounting firm.
Other grads say that the free time has allowed them to pursue their professional dreams, including Marc Crossley, a 2010 graduate of the University of Connecticut and a self-described entrepreneur in the developmental stages of building his own web design services group.
“It used to be that you graduate college, you apply to your first job and you work a nine-to-five job to make money,” Crossley said. “But nowadays, the beauty about this kind of situation is that you have the freedom to make a job for yourself. I know friends who’ve gone on to start their own companies, do volunteer work, travel Europe. There’s more to post-grad life than paying the bills.”
But paying the bills is always a worry for graduates such as Gregg Doyle, who graduated this winter with a degree in business administration from Rivier College. By graduating a semester early, he said he thought he would have a head start on the rest of his class, but some three months later, he’s still jobless.
“I’ve applied to anywhere between five and ten jobs a day, and I’m only now hearing back from a few employers for interviews,” Doyle said. “In school, your professors reassure you that things will work out. But that’s pretty tough when you’re applying everywhere and not getting any job offers.”
For now, Collier said she has postponed her ambitious career plans of becoming a director/writer for films and has pursued her dream through other venues. In the past twelve months alone, she said she has juggled two to three part-time jobs at a time, working as a sales associate in retail stores and barista in the local café, as well as several internships and freelance blogging gigs.
“Don’t stop when you get rejected,” Collier said. “It’s really easy to get discouraged in this economy, but you have to keep fighting.”Alexandra Churchill is a journalism student from the University of New Hampshire.