The Uneven Climb From College to Career

By Karin Fischer for The Chronicle

College graduation

Achievement gaps are about more than who goes to college and who graduates.

Ask students why they go to college, and they cite one reason more often than any other: To get a better job. Yet students’ chances of landing that good job after graduation aren’t created equal. Low-income students, students of color, and those who are the first in their families to go to college often have a tougher time finding a first job out of college and earn less than their more privileged peers. Latino college graduates earn only about 85 cents for every $1 made by their white counterparts, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Black college grads make just 78 cents, on average.

In a study to be released this month, researchers at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce found that white male college graduates were more than 10 percent more likely to have a good job — defined by the center as one that pays a family-sustaining wage — than Black or Hispanic men with four-year college degrees. While the gap is narrower between white and Black women with college degrees, female Hispanic college graduates are similarly disadvantaged.