The current generation of college graduates is earning the title of the Boomerang Generation. If you have a recent college graduate, or a college student due to graduate soon, chances are that you should be getting that bedroom ready to welcome your student home again. So much for that empty nest!
It may be reassuring to some parents with students moving back home, and to those students as well, to know that they are not alone. According to a survey conducted by the consulting firm Twentysomething, Inc., 85% of 2011 college graduates moved back home, at least for a while. The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 survey America’s Families and Living Arrangements, found that between 2005 and 2011 the percentage of individuals between 18 and 34 living at home has increased for all groups. In the age group 25-34, the percentage of males living at home has increased from 14% to 19%. The percentage of females in the same age group living at home has gone from 8% to 10%. In the 18-24 age bracket the percentage of males at home has gone from 53% to 59% and females from 46% to 50% (this includes students living in college dorms during the school year).
Students are moving back home for many different reasons, but all sources agree that two of the biggest factors are clearly the current economic climate and the difficult job market. The national unemployment rate is currently close to 9%. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly two million college educated workers aged 25 or older are currently unemployed. Unemployment for young adults aged 20-24 is approximately 14.9%.
So it is clear that for many graduates moving back home not only makes sense, but may be their only option. Some may stay for a short while and others may settle in for the long haul. What might this mean for you as a college graduate parent? This may be a wonderful time to get to know your child as an adult. This may also potentially be a difficult time of adjustment. Some families may feel the financial impact significantly – even delaying potential downsizing to a smaller home.
Careful planning and lots of good communication are keys. Questions about how long the arrangement will last and what the “house rules” and expectations will be are crucially important and should be discussed prior to beginning the arrangement. As a parent, you might be able to use this time to continue to educate your student about how to function in the world. Discuss budgets, expenses, business expectations, life lessons, but let your student take the lead. Don’t allow yourself – or your student – to slip back into old adolescent routines.
There is a good chance that the phenomenon of “boomerang kids” is here to stay for a while. As a college parent, or college graduate parent, finding your way through this perhaps unexpected phase will be a new adventure for both you and your student. Recognizing your role and working with your student to find a new way of living together and appreciating each other, will be yet another opportunity to forge a strong adult relationship.