REPORT: Overconfident new grads expect sizable entry-level salaries

A study by Real Estate Witch discovered that 2023 college graduates expected to make a starting salary of $84,855, compared to the average entry-level salary of $55,911.

Among the listed reasons for the higher salary expectations were ‘high-profile layoffs and fears of an economic recession.’

A report by Real Estate Witch published data suggesting that 2023 college graduates have overestimated their starting salaries by as much as $30,000, compared to the actual average entry-level compensation.

Students’ overestimates reflect the illusive value of college degrees, which previous reporting by Campus Reform shows has been dwindling.

[RELATED: Polls reveal Americans are not confident in higher ed, but still think a degree is important]

Real Estate Witch gathered data that suggests that recent graduates expect they will earn nearly $85,000 starting out. However, the average entry-level salary sits at just under $56,000.

The report suggests that graduates expect more because they feel worthy of special treatment, even entitlement. “61% of students think they won’t have to work entry-level jobs,” it reads, “because employers will see their potential and offer them senior-level positions right away.”

79% of graduates feel they deserve more money, the piece added.

Aside from earning a college degree, students can pay well over $100,000 in tuition and fees over four years, thanks in part to DEI programs and bloated bureaucracies. Taking on debt—averaging between $37,000 and $55,000—a student can easily feel that the exorbitant input costs warrant a better payout.

[RELATED: Colleges continue to recruit for high-paying DEI administrator positions]

In fact, “in 2022,” the article reads, “students thought they’d earn an astronomical $103,880 at their first entry-level job.”

The report attributes the decreasing student expectations to “high-profile layoffs and fears of an economic recession.”

In December 2022, Campus Reform reported that people with master’s degrees only earned a salary comparable to students expectations after working for 10 years.

Additionally, contrary to offering recent graduates senior-level positions, most employers are looking for employees with “desirable skill sets.”

Fewer high school graduates are enrolling in higher education, citing financial and mental health concerns. The trend falls in line with the general American public, of which only 40% believe that higher education is worth the cost.

[RELATED: Post-COVID enrollment down by 1 million as students cite affordability, mental health concerns]

The Real Estate Witch report indicates that students would consider taking a lower salary—but no less than $72,500—if they received other benefits such as a work-life balance, flexible hours, or a job in a desirable location.

“After watching older generations work hard and still struggle financially,” the report states, “Gen Z feels justified asking for bigger paychecks to afford the lifestyles they want.”