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  • First-Generation Students Land Fewer Jobs Before Graduation Than Peers

    BETHLEHEM, PA—First-generation college students are less likely to graduate with a job in hand than are their non-first-generation peers, according to a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

    Results of NACE’s First-Generation Students Report show that 24.9 percent of bachelor’s degree level first-generation students who applied for a job actually had one in hand at the time of graduation. In comparison, 33.4 percent of non-first-generation students who applied for a job had one at the time of graduation.

    First-generation students were less likely to receive a job offer than their counterparts; 43.1 percent of first-generation students received a job offer, compared with 49 percent of non-first-generation students. However, it appears that the biggest differentiator between the two groups was job acceptance: More than two-thirds of non-first-generation students accepted the job they were offered, while fewer than 58 percent of first-generation students did so. (See Figure 1.)

    Starting salary appears to be a key reason why first-generation students turned down jobs. Approximately 44 percent of first-generation students said they declined a job offer due to an insufficient compensation package, while just over 30 percent of non-first-generation students cited compensation as a factor in their decision to refuse an offer. Interestingly, starting salary expectations were similar between the two groups, but actual offers to first-generation students were significantly lower than those to non-first generation students. (See Figure 2.) Why this is the case was not addressed by the study.

    NACE’s First-Generation Students Report also compares the two groups in terms of career plans, employment preferences, and job-search resources.

    An executive summary of the report is available: See “First-Generation Students and Job Success.”

    Figure 1: How students fared in the job market

    Type of student Applied for a job Received an offer Accepted an offer Success rate*
    First generation 79.1 percent 43.1 percent 57.8 percent 24.9 percent
    Non-first generation 88 percent 49 percent 68.2 percent 33.4 percent
    Source: First-Generation Students Report, National Association of Colleges and Employers. Data are for bachelor’s degree graduates. *Success rate = Number who accepted a job offer/number who applied

    Figure 2: Starting salary expectations and offers

    Type of student Median annual salary expectation Median annual salary offer
    First generation $41,147 $43,320
    Non-first generation $42,839 $49,245
    Source: First-Generation Students Report, National Association of Colleges and Employers. Data are for bachelor’s degree graduates.

    About the First-Generation Students Report: The data contained in NACE's First-Generation Students Report are derived from responses to NACE’s 2016 Student Survey, conducted February 16 – April 30, 2016. Among respondents to the survey, 5,013 graduating seniors self-identified as being either first generation (1,925) or non-first generation (3,088). First-generation students are defined as those having a parent/parents who does/do not possess a bachelor’s degree.

    An executive summary of the report is available on NACE’s website: See “First-Generation Students and Job Success.”

    About NACE: Since 1956, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has been the leading source of information about the employment of college graduates. For more information, visit www.naceweb.org. NACE maintains a virtual press room for the media at www.naceweb.org/press-releases.aspx.