Congratulations to the graduates of the Class of 2010.
So much for the platitudes. I've got some good news and bad news for you.
The good news: There are more jobs available than last year. The bad news: Last year was the worst year for college grads since the Great Depression.
Of 2010 graduates who actively applied for work, 24 percent have a job waiting for them post-graduation. This is up almost 5 percentage points from last year when only 19 percent of graduates submitting resumes and applications scored direct employment.
At this rate, we'll crack that 30percent barrier in another 10 years, leaving only 70 percent of our college grads unemployed.
And pay? Salaries for finance majors rose 1.6 percent to $50,546, while those for liberal arts majors fell 8.9 percent to $33,540. Oh, the humanities!
There are other options, like the Peace Corps or the Marine Corps. Either way, the pay is lousy but you'll develop a unique perspective on the world.
Not for you? You can always move back home. The U.S. Census estimated in 2008 that 5 million Americans aged 25 to 35 are living with their parents. Talk about social networking opportunities.
Before you slip into a funk, however, know this: That degree, unless it was in Albanian literature, will mean you won't face a life with a spatula in your hand. The job market is ultimately a lot more rewarding for college grads than it is to those without a degree.
More important, you will join an army of famous people whose first experience with the real world was rejection. Consider:
The Museum of Modern Art in New York rejected a young Andy Warhol's gift of a drawing due to "severely limited gallery and storage space."
The writers of the screenplay for "Casablanca" were told that their work wouldn't make the cut because it was "unacceptably sex suggestive."
Marilyn Monroe, who in 1947, after one year under contract, was dropped by 20th Century Fox because "you haven't got the sort of looks that make a movie star."
Walt Disney's first cartoon production company went bankrupt.
Edgar Allan Poe was expelled first from the University of Virginia, then from West Point.
Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
J.K Rowling's original Harry Potter manuscript was rejected 12 times.
Thirty-eight publishers didn't give a damn about Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind."
And if you've got a diploma in hand, you've got a leg up on Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft; Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers; David Geffen, co-founder of Dreamworks, SKG; Larry Ellison, founder of the database company Oracle; William Hanna of the cartoon producers Hanna-Barbera; Sheldon Adelson, real estate and casino owner; Jack Taylor, founder of Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
All of them were college dropouts. And all of them are billionaires.
And just in case your aspirations lead you in a different direction, add to that list Mexican drug lord Joaqu n Guzm n Loera or Dawood Ibrahim, head of an organized crime and terror syndicate in South Asia. Both are worth big bucks.
I'll leave you with a few inspirational quotes as you start your journey:
"A graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns that individuality is the key to success." (Robert Orben).
"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else." (Judy Garland).
"Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude." (Ralph Marston)
"Try not. Do or do not. There is no try." (Yoda)
And my two favorites:
"Be as bold as the first man or woman to eat an oyster." (Shirley Chisholm)
"The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit." (Nelson He