Meet the Eager-Beaver Class of 2001

At the moment, they’re probably stupefied by boring commencement speeches. Once they recover, though, this spring’s college graduates will set out to make their fortunes, fully expecting to succeed. Commissioned by Northwestern Mutual, a survey of college seniors found 83 percent agreeing “strongly” (and 16 percent “somewhat”) with the statement, “I am sure that someday I will get to where I want to be in life.” To that end, 55 percent agreed strongly (and 33 percent somewhat), they’ve “established specific goals for the next five years.” Sixty percent intend to start working right after graduation, versus 14 percent planning to “take some time off to travel or relax.” Most respondents think it “very likely” (63 percent) or “somewhat” so (26 percent) that their first job will be in their chosen “career field.” Asked how much money they “realistically” expect as a starting salary, 33 percent put it in the $20,001-30,000 range, 27 percent guessed $30,001-40,000, 15 percent said $40,001-50,000 and 12 percent expected to pull down more than $50,000. Many are averse to inching their way up a corporate ladder. Rather, more than half think it likely (22 percent “very,” 34 percent “somewhat”) they’ll someday work for themselves or start their own business. Given their druthers, 30 percent would like to be the founder of a startupcompany, versus 18 percent who’d like to be the CEO of a Fortune 1,000 company. Just13 percent would want to be the nation’s president—fewer than would chose to be a movie actor (19 percent) or a professional athlete (15 percent). Whatever their career path, most respondents think it very likely (73 percent) or somewhat so (21 percent) that they’ll “eventually be able to afford the kind of lifestyle you grew up in.” Among other tidbits from the study: 81 percent hope someday to get married, and 12 percent have done so already. As for children, 82 percent hope to reproduce, in addition to the 8 percent who’ve done so.