ic S/general/checkmark circled Thanks for subscribing! Be on the lookout for our next newsletter.
ic S/general/checkmark circled
Saved to My Favorites. View My Favorites
Articles / Preparing for College / Boomerang Boom

Boomerang Boom

Dave Berry
Written by Dave Berry | June 6, 2016

Two things happened this late spring that may be a caution light for parents: (1) college graduation and (2) the latest jobs report. As one pundit put it:

The May jobs report is a shocker, with nonfarm payrolls up only 38,000 and private jobs up a mere 25,000. Investors and economists are making the case that this was a weird, one-off, statistical glitch and that stronger employment is on the way. They might well be wrong.

If you smooth out the numbers with a three-month moving average, job increases have been slowing for five months. The three-month pace in December was 281,000 jobs. In the May report, the pace nosedived to 107,000. The unemployment rate fell to 4.7%, largely because 458,000 people left the labor force.

This spells trouble for the economy ...

The launching of newly minted college graduates into the "real" world is a highly anticipated event, one worked for by students and (mostly) paid for by parents, with some notable exceptions. So, what's a squeaky-new college grad to do if s/he hasn't already acquired that first job out of college?

The clock starts ticking as soon as diplomas are distributed. All those deferred student loans will begin coming due. This is when the sobering reality of casual, if not ill-considered, borrowing hits home. The blush of attending a "dream" school can easily turn into a nightmare hangover of near-lifetime debt.

Securing a decent-paying job is mandatory in order to meet those loan payments. In the face of the current economic slump(s), competition for those jobs is becoming more and more fierce. One doesn't have to have a Nobel Prize in economics to see that a national economy that adds only 38,000 jobs per report period is sputtering. The type and quality of those 38K jobs may be even more shocking than we care to confront, if we drill deeper into their specifics.

With all this in mind, I read with interest a well-timed article reporting on the current state of college graduates and their tethers to home sweet home. Millennials get real about moving back in with the 'rents begins with a rather shocking revelation:

The empty nests are filling up.

A report released last week finds that living at home with parents is, for the first time in recorded history, the most common living arrangement among Americans ages 18-34. And while experts will give you their reasons, they sometimes fail to capture the finer details, like, well, convenience ...

The phrase "for the first time in recorded history" grabbed me. Maybe you've been there and done that. I have.

Back in the early Seventies, when I was a not-so-fresh college grad, I lived at home for a brief period while seeking my first full-time job. Things were tough back then too. Fortunately, I was able to find something relatively quickly and I was able to move out on my own and begin that journey called life.

But, that was then and this is now. Things are a bit different now (he said sarcastically). The Millennial Generation faces a completely different set of circumstances than we ancient Boomers did ... on many fronts.

To sample the waters about this so-called "Boomerang" syndrome, I decided to see what the parents who frequent the College Confidential discussion forum had to say about this, since many of them are sitting, as we speak, with a new college graduate in their midst. Thus, I posted this thread -- Millennials get real about moving back in with the 'rents -- to get their take on Boomerangers. Here's a sampling of their points of view:

- My S [Son] is at home- for now- We couldn't afford to pay his tuition so he came home after college to pay off student loans. He did- 40K in 15 months. He just changed jobs and is now creating his emergency 'nest egg' and gaining experience so he can then move into a third job. Short term goal, is save another 40K, long term goal- move out within 2 years. We are okay with this as it will put him in a position neither H or I had when we were his age.

Our goal is to be empty nesters when we retire from work, so for now we are good. Plus, we don't do anything for him. He buys and eats whatever he wants. We are not doing the family dinners, laundry etc.

- If you live where your child can get a good job post college, that's not a bad way to help pay off college debt although I still prefer undergrad debt at $20k or less.  

- DS1 [Darling Son #1] lives in his own apartment about 30-40 miles north of here, but he comes to our house almost every weekend to do laundry and just hang and because we're closer to most of his social life -- his club sports team, friends, etc., -- than is his apartment right by work. His lease is up in August, and he's trying to figure out his next move. It definitely won't be home, but he might move a little south, which means his weekend visits will lessen. I like the current arrangement, and I bet he'll come home for an afternoon/dinner most weekends anyway.

After graduation, he lived at home for a year while doing AmeriCorps. It was fine. He's pretty easy.

- D [Daughter] never considered coming home to live after graduation. Hopefully S won't either. I love my kids and love spending time together but prefer they not come back home to live. 

- My D's career is in NYC, and given the high cost of living, she'd come home in a heartbeat if we lived close enough. Some of her friends do live with their parents in the city, and they can do a lot that more than she can. It only makes economic sense. I'm glad and proud that she can make it on her own, but if I could help her in that way, I would.  

- One lived at home, paid toward utilities, etc, because we have the space and the mutual respect thing was working. Then got her own place a year later. She's been employed throughout. The other never did live here again, lives in the next big city, though she's back a lot (seems to come to nap. Ok, not really that bad. And she's employed, too.) ...


- D2 just graduated from college last week. She will be living at home and working for 2 years before she goes off to law school. Since my divorce, it has been only me at the apartment, so I am looking forward to have her around. But it is not going to be a free ride for her. We just worked out what she would pay me for rent (a lot less than what she would pay in NYC), and other expenses she would pay - electric, 50% housecleaning, and her own food. I travel during the week, so she will have the apartment to herself most of the time. And she is allowed to have friends over when I am not there.

- S1 lives at home. He is 29 and does not seem eager to move out. He has a propensity to do everything that is the least difficult, whatever it is ...

- Dd can live me with as long as she wants. I have no issue with that. I would love the company. She can save on her expenses and build her nest egg.  

- We covered the cost of college for our children. When they graduate, we tell them they can live with us for a year, totally expense free. We encourage them to save as much money as possible since they have no student loans. However, after a year, it is time for them to move out ...

There are many other comments on that thread, so please check it out. Perhaps you have a strong opinion about the issue or have personal experience with it, like the posters cited above. Feel free to join the discussion.

As for those who posted comments after the the "'rents" article, their opinions varied regarding the real-life examples revealed in the article:

They all sounded like they enjoyed the benefits of living at home - parents pay for everything and do the work - food, cooking, cleaning. laundry, and ability to travel. Must be nice but how about being responsible for yourselves?

“Home-cooked meals and free laundry were definite pluses. I saved so much money not paying rent, which allowed me to travel."

Her parents raised a spoiled brat. Another reason why this generation of brats is useless.

The economy is doing great.

Yet millennials are moving back home due in part to the recession & ffalling/stagnant wages.

Record number of people on welfare.

Record number of people out of work.

Yea, the economy is grand. lol

The economy is GREAT but these people are nothing but moochers lol, they love free food from mommy and free gas money from daddy, what a shame!!!!

There is nothing wrong to have your kids living at home while in college to save money, but once they graduate find a job, don't let the door hit you on the way out

This article attempts to put a positive spin on something that is very destructive to the spirits and freedoms of these people. Sure, there are some nice parents out there but, more often than not they are stuck with parents who resent their presence, humiliate and verbally demean them daily ...


Parents, what is your experience with boomeranging? Did you ever boomerang? If so, tell us about it.


Be sure to check out all my college-related articles at College Confidential.


Admit This

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

More on Preparing for College

See all

Moving Away from Home for College: The Tales of an International Student in Boston

Born and raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario, I was used to small-town living. I attended an international boarding school as a day …


2023 AP Exam Score Distributions

This year’s AP Scores have been released and Trevor Packer, head of the Advanced Placement Program has shared the details of this…

SummerApply_Article Headers

10 Summer Programs Still Open For Applications

Summer is here, marking one of the best times for motivated high schoolers to enroll in summer programs where they can diversify …


Summer STEM Prep: Start Strong and Avoid These Common Pitfalls

College-level STEM programs are notoriously rigorous, and getting off to a strong start can make a huge difference for students w…


A Solid Résumé is Worth the Effort for More Reasons Than You Can Imagine

Building a strong personal résumé in your first years of high school is recommended by counselors, college & university admis…

Get a student loan that goes beyond tuition.

Ascent offers cosigned and non-cosigned student loans with exclusive benefits that set students up for success.

Explore Now!
Find Your Scholarship

Want to find money for school that doesn’t need to be paid back? Access insights and advice on how to search and apply for scholarships!

Search for Scholarship