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The Associated Press Camille Luckenbaugh has some advice for college graduates who have been wasting their summer lounging on their parents' couch: get a job. Starting salaries for recent college graduates are on the rise, according to a July survey of 150 colleges by the Allentown, Pa.-based National Association of Colleges and Employers. ''The economy is strong, unemployment is low,'' said Luckenbaugh, NACE's employment information manager. ''It's definitely easier to find a job now then it was 10 years ago.'' ''Judging from my friends' success? it doesn't seem that difficult,'' Meehan said. ''I'm not too worried about finding a job.'' Pat Rose, Penn's director of career services, said Meehan's feelings are typical. ''Students are a little more relaxed, a little less nervous, because there's so much opportunity now,'' Rose said. Engineers -- especially petroleum engineers -- are making the most money, according to the survey. Their average starting salary is $50,156, up 15.5 percent from 10 months ago. Computer science majors, perhaps buoyed by recent fears over the Y2K bug that is threatening to wreak computer havoc when the calendar strikes 2000, average $41,561 a year, up 11.7 percent from September 1997, the survey reported. Liberal arts and psychology graduates, traditionally among the lowest paid, have made significant increases as well, according to the survey. Students graduating with English degrees can expect an average starting salary of $27,608, up 15.9 percent from last year. Psychology students, while still not making the big bucks of their engineering counterparts, are up 8.9 percent since September, bring the average starting salary to $25,499. Tom Novak, a career coordinator at Temple University, said there has been about a 10 percent increase this year in on-campus recruiting, especially in information technology, computer science and marketing. Some employers are actively wooing students with signing bonuses. Bob Perkoski, director of placement and career services at the University of Pittsburgh, said that some employers set up a cafe and served latte in order to get students' attention. The story is the same at Widener University in Delaware County. Career Advising Director Mary Pennington said they have seen a 29 percent increase in the number of companies conducting interviews on campus. Pennington has had to change the way she councils students because the job market is so good. ''We find ourselves giving more advice on how to handle multiple offers,'' Pennington said. This means that students can demand higher starting salaries then in previous years, she said. ''The salaries, especially in the technical areas, have been up over last year,'' Pennington said. But students shouldn't let the abundance of jobs lull them into a false sense of security. Novak is still giving his students the same advice he always gives: ''Start early.''

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