Across the nation, college graduates are flipping their tassels and preparing to enter the real world.
University of Arizona students graduate in three hours: some with jobs, others still searching, and many others heading off for more schooling.
The UA mall was packed today with parents taking pictures of their graduating seniors. College graduation is one of the most exciting days for many young people, but in this recovering job market, it's also a time of stress.
As the UA's largest ever class gets ready to bid farewell today, jobs are on the minds of many.
"Finding a job with just a bachelors is pretty difficult these days," said Alyssa Farr, a graduating senior with a B.S. in biology.
Alyssa plans to get her masters degree in public health from the U of A to make her more competitive for the job market down the road.
"Once you finish grad school, professional school, you're much more likely to get a job. That's the direction a lot of us are headed in."
The job outlook could be part of the reasoning. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, a survey of nearly 200 businesses across the country shows job growth is less than what was anticipated.
Employers say they'll hire 2.1 percent more new college graduates this year than they hired in 2012. Employers thought that number would be more like 13 percent.
With one year down, some freshmen are thankful it's not time yet to don a cap and gown.
"I'm so happy I have three more years till I have to do that and leave and be done with college and go into the real world," said Kait Morast, a UA freshman.
A real world that Zach Santos says is manageable if you plan ahead.
"Some of them have really put in a lot of work and it's paid off," Santos said. "Some are still looking for a job and those [who] are just kind of starting are having a difficult time right now."
Zach is graduating from graduate school and after starting his job search in January, he's landed a job as a community director at the U of A.
Even for students who are graduating and not planning on grad school, this is a day of enjoyment.
"If you really enjoy your time here, do what you want to do and don't feel like you have to do anything because other people are doing it," graduating senior Kyle McGuiness said.
It's a day to be proud of the hard work endured over the past four years, and to look ahead to the hard work to come.
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