To curb financial burdens, some graduates, such as Vaibhat Singh, lean on their families’ support before living on their own. Photo by Amir Ghani.


After college graduates receive their diploma, they are supposedly ready to dive into the workforce and live on their own.

Well, that is not how the real world works.

Even though the average college graduate expects to make a median salary of $60,000 a year, it ends up being closer to $48,400 according to a recent study done by LendEDU, a loan help website. This reality check can make it difficult for some graduates to come to terms with moving out.

“I applied to jobs before I graduated and lived with my parents for a month in Malibu until I got a job and apartment for myself in Santa Monica,” said Vaibhat Singh, a business analytics graduate of Chapman University. “It was hard finding a place that was affordable and close to work, but my parents are able to help me out financially with things like rent until I progress further in my career.”

Many graduates like Andre Fawaz, a strategic and corporate communications graduate of Chapman, choose to go on to graduate school.

“I’m getting to use more money towards paying off student loans that would probably be late if I had a rent to keep up with,” Fawaz said.

Thirty-eight percent of college graduates in Los Angeles lived at home with their parents in 2016 according to a MarketWatch article. In 2017, the Federal Reserve reported that 30 percent of American adults had taken out some sort of student loan at one point in their lives, and that the average monthly payment made by those in debt was $393.

Fawaz goes to the University of California, Irvine for his masters in innovation and entrepreneurship, and returned home to Newport Beach after graduation because of the lack of affordable housing in the area.

“It’s easier for me to save my money that I make from working at Target so that once I leave my parents’ house, I have some sort of financial foundation to get started on,” said Fawaz.

Even though Fawaz attends graduate school in hopes of a better, higher paying job, he worries about never getting one, given that his student loans are only increasing each semester.

Many students attend college in hopes of a high-paying career afterward, like Andre Fawaz, but they sometimes leave with more student debt than they anticipated. Photo by Amir Ghani.

“My dad has been a huge help in teaching me financial literacy, something I tended to ignore growing up,” said Fawaz. “I’m on financial aid for grad school and paying off loans I took while at Chapman too, so I really didn’t have any other choice but to learn how to save smarter.”

The cost of living in Los Angeles is approximately $3,000 a month according to Investopedia. The starting salary of a new hire fresh out of college is about $4,000 based on a survey done by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, so many graduates are moving back to their parents’ house, at least until they have saved enough to be out on their own.

Another Chapman graduate that lives at home is Alex Younan, who studied business administration. Younan chose to work for her family’s private equity firm as a digital marketing specialist when she could not find a job in Los Angeles after college.

“I wasn’t able to get any flexibility with my schedule,” Younan said. “The job market out here is so saturated with people fresh out of college, that even with my degree and previous experience, I was deemed middle-of-the-road by employers.”

Younan feels lucky to live at home, but knows that she should move out in order to jumpstart her adult life.

“I’m blessed to be living at home and working with my family, but it’s just about time for me to find a new job and a place to live that I can feel fully independent in,” said Younan.

Ava Hedayat, a Chapman psychology graduate, is moving from Anaheim to Los Angeles to be closer to her job at Fox Digital Agency.

“After the wave of applying, it’s quiet for at least a week until you start to hear back from employers. I was basically just unemployed and waiting with no source of income. There were a few places that didn’t even have the courtesy to tell me they denied my application,” Hedayat said.

Hedayat said that living at home would have caused her to lose motivation in relation to her job, as she thinks it is easy to get used to life at home.

“If I didn’t find a friend to get an apartment with, there’s no chance I would be able to move closer to Los Angeles,” said Hedayat. “Our rent is going to be around $3,800 a month before we take bills, like electricity, into account.”

Hedayat believes she may have to return home if the job does not work out because of the high rent and expenses.

The post-graduation job hunt was not easy for Ava Hedayat, but being jobless after college is a real fear for many graduates. Photo courtesy of Ava Hedayat.

According to a study done by the Strada Institute, students who take up their first college-level job after graduation generally gain more critical skills.

“If you’re planning to work after college, apply early and to jobs that make sense in respect to what you graduated in,” said Singh. “Don’t go to where the quick money is, go to where you will succeed in the long term.”

Singh works at the Guitar Center Headquarters, but he was worried about his prospects as a business major when he applied because of the crowded job market.

Hedayat said that it was her professors at Chapman, rather than her classes, that gave her the knowledge necessary to start a career.

“I would go to the Career Center and talk to some people there, but nothing would ever really come of it,” said Hedayat. “It was up to me to make connections with professors which in turn helped me to land a job. Being able to put down that I went to Chapman on a resume, though, has definitely helped.”

Haley Wragg, the assistant director of marketing and engagement at Chapman’s Career and Professional Development center, is confident in Chapman’s connection with alumni and Chapman’s alumni association itself.

“Chapman is rare in that when you graduate, you don’t have to pay an alumni association fee to access events, resources and other perks of the alumni association. You are automatically a member of the Alumni Association and can start using that to build your professional network, reach and impact,” Wragg said.

Some Chapman alumni may choose to take a time off for themselves before heading into the workforce, but that was not an option for Singh.

“I wish I could’ve taken trips and explored the world before I started my job, but it just wasn’t realistic for me. In college this sounds like the worst thing ever, but honestly life afterwards is great. I’ve been earning and saving instead of earning and spending,” said Singh.

Singh feels that his transition from school life to work life was fairly seamless, and that it was the right idea to head directly into work and move into his own apartment after he graduated.

“It feels nice to be living on my own, because now I feel like I’ve got the whole world ahead of me without anyone holding me back,” said Singh.

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