Baby boomerangs come back

You've finished university, where next? Probably straight home again, says Fiona Mountford

Like thousands of graduates, 22-year-old Ben Taylor always believed that the deal was this: go to a decent university, get a good degree (and a mountain of debt), find a fairly interesting job, start to pay off said debt, and last, but definitely not least, set off for a flat of your own. Four months after graduation, the job and flat remain a distant dream. In fact, all that is happening is that the interest on his debts has started accruing interest and he is beginning to feel once more like a sullen teenager stuck in his parent's home.

Life after graduation can be a very rude awakening. After the euphoria of finishing finals and having a last couple of weeks of alcohol-inspired madness with friends comes the realisation that you need to find a full- time job. And the obvious place to start all over again is at home.

Home is where an increasing number of graduates return to. Grant cuts and huge increases in student borrowing mean that the average graduate debt is around pounds 6,000, according to the National Union of Students. Add to this escalating rents and it is no wonder home is a good place to find your feet (and food cooked and washing done) for a few months. The past couple of years might have seen an improve ment in graduate job prospects, but Dr Ruth Smith, of the Cambridge University Careers Service, says early twentysomethings are becoming a generation of baby boomerangs.

Graduates who have "come back" reveal a familiar picture of returning home being a reversal of everything university is supposed to be about. "Your parents say you can be independent, but you can't," says Anna Goodger, who spent five months at home after graduating two years ago. She adds a common complaint of feeling she's constantly being watched.

Vicky Jackson, who is living at home while completing her course, confirms this. "You do feel like you're in someone else's house. Everything has to be planned in advance: asking to have people over, borrowing the car, using the phone and so on." The days when you were within staggering distance of friends guaranteed to have a packet of chocolate Hob-Nobs at 4am seems like a distant memory.

Having a job certainly eases the situation, bringing financial independence and some justification in politely ignoring some of the more bizarre parental constraints. But while the job search is in full flow, it can be what Julian Teare, who graduated this year, describes as "a bloody nightmare. To say that I'm being nagged about getting a job just isn't the word - my parents simply thought I would walk into the job of their dreams." Yes, their dreams, that one little pronoun which goes a long way towards explaining a lot of the conflicts. Eliza Mobbs, who has just got a job after more than a year of poorly paid work experience, adds, "A lot of parents don't understand the modern job market, the need to be flexible and gain experience." In a lot of concerned parents eyes, it's not a worthwhile or "proper" job until the wages are in the bank.

Never has opening the post been more of a spectator sport. But as Becky Martin testifies, some parents are never satisfied. Having bagged the "dream" graduate job with Arthur Andersen, she's off on a three-month Raleigh International expedition to Namibia. "My parents feel I should just get on with the job, especially as I had a year out before university."

Ben Taylor wishes he had Becky's pleasant dilemma and longs for the acceptance letter which will put him back on a par with his university contemporaries. "You put a lot of pressure on yourself - you don't want to feel that you've failed," he says, "especially when your friends have already got the job and the flat."

Feeling a failure is not aided by the umpteenth night in watching TV with mum and dad. But don't think parents aren't aware of this, warns Chris Marshall, father of 22-year old Katharine, who has been back at home for the past 16 months. "We know it's a big adjustment for a graduate to come back to a more organised way of life. But it's an adjustment for parents, too. We've been used to our independence and then suddenly the child returns and we seem to be back in the routine of washing, shopping and cooking."

He says there needs to be a compromise, but as any baby boomerang will tell you, mature discussions with the people your pre-university self probably viewed as "the enemy" aren't easy. Especially if you have toy trains still choo-chooing all over your bedroom wallpaper.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

    £28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

    £25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

    Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

    £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

    £25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas