Across the country, college seniors are preparing to graduate and enter the world, and in BYU’s case, “go forth to serve.”
For students like BYU senior Kimberly Moore Rivers, this new step is bittersweet. Rivers transferred to BYU three years ago before her sophomore year.
“I had a lot of, I don’t know, preconceived ideas, or even hesitancies of what it was going to be,” Rivers said. “I just was really worried I wouldn’t like it or wouldn’t fit in.”
However, Rivers said in her three years at BYU, she has enjoyed her experience “leaps and bounds” more than she hoped and credits that to other students in her cohort.
“They’re just wonderful,” Rivers said.
Rivers, a public relations major, feels her cohort is uniquely close with one another. “There’s only about 50 to 60 of us,” she said, “but we all get along.”
As for graduation, Rivers said she is excited to get started on a new chapter. “I feel like I’m ready but, you know, also very scared,” she said. “I have been a naturally anxious person.”
Rivers said for her, the uncertainty of graduating can be difficult and sometimes stresses “about uncertainties of my future and having this big change in my life, even though I know it’s a good change,” Rivers said.
Rivers’ experience may sound familiar to other seniors. For many, graduation can be accompanied with a certain sense of anxiety, especially in the process of finding a job post-graduation.
A study by the Pew Research Center showed that 55% of young adults say finding a job is more difficult today than it was for their parents. The same study shows seven in ten Americans think young adults have a harder time than their parents saving for the future, paying for college and buying a home.
College graduation signifies the next step into adulthood and self-reliance for some.
On the bright side, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, Utah’s unemployment rate is at 2.4%, while the national rate is at 3.4%. According to a press release regarding Utah’s employment summary, the state’s economy added a cumulative 46,400 jobs since January 2022.
Utah’s current job count stands at 1,680,400, the press release said.
“Utah begins the new year right where the old one left off, with a strong economy employing large amounts of new labor,” Department of Workforce Services’ Chief Economist Mark Knold said in the press release.
According to Knold, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reviews employment rates from the past year and makes revisions. The revisions for 2022 show that the economy grew more rapidly, and more individuals were looking for a job than they originally estimated.
“This is actually a reflection on the strength of the 2022 economy as more people felt confident to go looking for a job,” Knold said. “It also helps explain how the economy could grow so much in the face of limited labor availability.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 1.9% of college graduates ages 25 and older were unemployed in February 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic. By June of the same year, 6.8% of college grads were unemployed. However, by March 2022, the rate returned to pre-pandemic levels and 2% of college graduates were unemployed.
Data from The BYU Recent Graduate Survey shows that 59.45% of graduates who completed the survey were employed full-time, and 9.03% were employed part-time at the time of response. Survey respondents consist of 17,795 students who graduated between 2017-2021 and received the survey six months after they graduated.
Of those who were employed, 61.02% reported having secured their job prior to graduation.
Rivers encouraged other college students to take advantage of their undergraduate education and make long-lasting and meaningful connections. “The connections you make with your peers and your professors are so important,” she said, “it will make your overall undergrad experience better.”
BYU senior Joseph Andreason is also grateful for his time at BYU. “My BYU experience has been unforgettable,” he said.
Andreason said he is most grateful for the good people and professors he has been surrounded by at BYU.
“The caliber of human, I guess, I’ve found at BYU is almost impossible to describe, but is certainly very inspiring to me,” he said. “I’m just trying to soak it all up and try to join and do everything I can while I’m here.”
For Andreason, a communications student, the next step is law school. He has been accepted into several programs around the country, and said he and his wife, Sadie Andreason, are considering which to attend.
“We’ve been talking and praying and hitting the temple,” he said. Andreason said though he loves being a part of so many things at BYU, he is looking forward to focus his efforts on law school, his wife, and his 5-month-old daughter, Penny.
Andreason said this next step feels very different from the “very incubated space” of BYU. From high school to a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Andreason knew where he was going next. However, he feels the pressure now to take advantage of the next three years.
“Everything I do directly influences my ability to provide for my family,” he said.
When he feels overwhelmed, Andreason said having direction and purpose is helpful. He often has check-ins with himself and loved ones, from phone calls with his dad to conversations with his wife.
Above all, Andreason said he advises other graduating seniors to not let BYU be a thing of the past.
“Stay connected to the university for the rest of your life,” he said.