Chinese college graduates have faced increasing labor market competition since the expansion of tertiary education. Given rigid market demand, graduates with realistic earnings expectations may experience a more efficient job search. Using the 2008 MYCOS College Graduate Employment Survey, this study finds that a 1 000 yuan reduction in a graduate’s reservation wage can significantly increase the probability of finding a job by 66% and increase the likelihood of being employed six months after graduation by 92%. In addition, the gap between the reservation wage and the market wage has a positive impact. By slightly adjusting earnings expectations, college graduates can significantly improve job search efficiency. Market wages should be seen as reference points when adjusting income expectations.
One unintended consequence of Chinese higher education expansion is an increasing socioeconomic gap in college achievement. Using 2011 College Freshmen Development Survey data, this paper engages in an empirical analysis of the association between one’s socioeconomic status, high school preparation, and college performance. This study finds that well prepared and academically engaged high school graduates achieve a significantly higher level of college development than their less prepared peers. Moreover, low-ses students have a significantly lower level of core competence and civic participation, due to their lack of academic preparation, learning engagement, and parental support in high school. This study provides a critical evidence for the life cycle skill formation argument that the deficit in early human capital investment can impair adolescent and adult attainment.