After having students reach out to me, talking at colleges, and hearing what my peers have to say, I've really begun noticing a trend in students now. That would be entitlement.
Here is the number one thing every student should know;
You don't deserve anything.
Just because you went to school, or because you are talented, doesn't mean the world will hand you the job you want once you have graduated. I know it may suck to hear it, but this industry is hard work.
Whether you attend CalArts or an Arts Institutes, YOU are responsible for the work you produce the entire time you are in school. A degree doesn't mean much, its what you actually take away from it. You need to be aware of what else is being produced out there and hold your art to your own standards (which may be higher than what your school expects of you). Honestly, most of the professionals I know will tell you this as well, but you only learn about 50% of what you need to know while you are in school. College only really provides you with the tools of the trade. Then it is all in your hands to create with it.
Yes, some colleges are "better" than others. Some have more industry connections, more aggressive courses, but even those schools just facilitate your learning.
As an artist, its your responsibility to stay driven and inspired. Don't just look at your fellow students, but compare your work with students internationally. Push yourself at all times, because the learning doesn't end once you graduate.
Some colleges have better "placement" than others, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't look for yourself. All the responsibility for your future falls on your own shoulders; how well you network, the quality of your art, and some luck.
With that comes how you present yourself to others. When you reach out to professionals or recruiters, be respectful. You are asking for their time, and its a privilege, not a right. Be grateful with whatever they can give you; animation has some long hours and if someone has 5 minutes to give you, its a lot to them. Be aware of how you are representing yourself. This industry may seem large, but its a small knit community.
I completely understand that it may not seem fair. Sure you have worked hard and may have been the best in your class, but sadly, that means nothing. You need to keep at it until you fight your way in with perseverance. You will get there eventually, but there is no golden path. You will see friends straight out of college land their dream jobs, just remember to smile and congratulate them (even if you are jealous). You will get there sooner or later.
Keep learning after graduation. Keep working to be better. The Animation Industry is worth it.