Moving Back In With Your Parents After University Isn’t a Sign of Failure, Right?
Moving back home after university for the unforeseeable future is something many, if not most, graduates find themselves doing these days, whether they want to or not.
Here, one of those graduates explores how being in this exact situation can feel like a sign of failure.
Two months after finishing my degree in English Literature, and a couple of weeks since my graduation, I find myself reluctantly moved back home – into the smaller bedroom, no less.
This wasn’t exactly part of my original plan, but I am sure I can make it work.
Like many other graduates, I was incredibly naïve. With my 2:1, I thought the job offers would be filling my inbox and that I would be living life as an independant graduate by now, or at least be on the way to doing so.
Choose a broad degree, they said, it’ll open doors, they said. Thus far though, no job offers, no doors have been opened, and I’m back where I started. Literally.
Of course, I’m not the first graduate, nor will I be the last, to regret not having the luxury of hindsight. More and more of us are moving back home after university, with no real idea of when we are going to be able to leave again, if ever.
Research by the Office for National Statistics shows about half of graduates aged 22 to 24 now live with their parents. In addition to this, back in 2015, data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) showed that over 16 thousand graduates were out of work six months after leaving university.
After three years of freedom, this is the unfortunate reality I fear I am already part-way to facing.
To make matters worse, with a degree in English Literature, I am continuously met with questions doubting why I bothered in the first place. If I earned money for every time I’ve heard “what can you do with that?” I probably wouldn’t need a graduate job after all.
Then there’s the ever-tiring: “So are you just going to be a teacher then?” Because, of course, should you choose to do a creative degree that teaches you applicable and valuable life skills, you have no other option than to be a teacher, right?
I, along with many other graduates with degrees of all kinds, have learnt to be tenacious, analytical, and critical, skills that I used to think would be enough to at least give me a chance at landing an entry-level job as soon as I graduated. However, the employment purgatory I find myself in right now confirms that experience trumps fancy adjectives.
Experience, or lack thereof, is a recurring nightmare in my plight for employment. It’s a common and annoying problem when applying for jobs. To get experience, you apply for a job but also need experience to apply for said job.
With my savings rapidly depleting, I’m struggling to see how I’ll ever be able to regain my freedom and live the life of an independent, working graduate.
I suppose if I’ve learned anything as a graduate so far, it’s that a degree does not guarantee employment – experience always comes out on top. Not only am I applying for ‘proper’ graduate jobs, and even part-time jobs in coffee shops and retail, I am now applying for unpaid work experience, too.
And all from the small bedroom in my parents’ house.
At this point, I couldn’t have deviated from the “original plan”, whatever that was, more if I tried.
But moving back home needn’t be the depressing cherry on top of my financial and employment woes.
It provides me with free accommodation while I try and sort my life out, something no graduate in my shoes ought to take for granted. A temporary stopgap, hopefully, before my luck begins to change it might be, but it could be a whole lot worse.
Living in Birmingham, I am incredibly fortunate to have an abundance of offices that offer work experience and internships for people in my predicament – which, with any luck, will aid in padding out my CV.
I would love for this to be the turning point of my article, where I say how my luck has finally changed and I am now in my dream job and perseverance paid dividends.
Alas, I am writing in the present tense; along with countless other recent graduates, I am currently in this situation without the luxury of hindsight and feeling like a little bit of a failure.
Maybe it’s a sign of the times, the new normal even. Whatever it is, it doesn’t feel great.
But to all of you out there who, like me, have found yourselves back at home, worrying that you’ll be there for more than the foreseeable future, and fearing that you’ve failed because this wasn’t the way you were led to believe life as a recent graduate would be, you’re not alone, and you have not failed.