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
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
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

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - North West London, £35-40k

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant (ACCA / CIMA, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Female Care Team

    £11 - £12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A 10 year old girl who has profound an...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Manchester - Urgent Requirement!

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + 20 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Development Manager ...

    Day In a Page

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

    Pot of gold

    Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
    10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

    From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

    While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
    Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore