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Recession Causing High Anxiety for Students

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Associated Press: School's out, surf's up, summer beckons. Time for college students to see if they can stay afloat in the worst economy their generation has known.

Young people are carrying a load heavier than they normally bear as they scatter from campuses, judging from an AP-mtvU poll that finds students anxious about their finances, job prospects after graduation and the pressures facing their folks back home.

Josh Donahue, 23, an Oregon State University economics graduate, is living on food stamps. First in his family with a university degree, he stays with relatives and scrapes even for a menial job instead of the bank gig he'd dreamed about.

"A degree in economics," he said, "doesn't really prepare you to understand the economy very well."

To be sure, tight budgets are a rite of passage at college. Ramen noodles build character.

But in a nation that has lost more than 5.7 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007, parent and student alike are swept up in the tempest. In the poll of students, nearly one in five reported that at least one parent lost a job in the last year.

Parents usually worry about their kids' finances. Now the kids are worrying about their parents'.

At George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., systems engineering junior Adrian Solomon, 21, of Virginia Beach, Va., said his mother, who is single and raising his 16-year-old sister as well as a foster child, is "trying to support me sometimes, when I need it." At other times she's asked him for money. "I would do what I can to help her out."

Jake Lear, 21, of Warrenton, Va., a digital arts major at George Mason, worked three jobs at a time through the semester and is doing one of them full-time this summer -- a resident adviser helping to look after freshmen in dorms -- because he gets free housing. His parents work for a federal contractor that shrank its work force and eliminated 401(k) matching contributions. The school is in suburban northern Virginia outside Washington.

"I'm pretty much independent as far as school goes," Lear said. "Where they would normally help me out with cash here and there they don't so much any more, just because money's so tight."

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1 comments so far | Post a comment now
Patois May 19, 2009, 6:58 PM

I was on a committee back in 1997 that extrapolated social institutions 70 years into the future and this generation of college grads was foreseen to have these depressing challenges. Every generation is faced with a new and unique set of challenges. This particular generation of Americans, though, is unusually poorly prepared for mature adaptation and for thinking outside of the lines. The forecast for them is dour, especially because their parents and local school boards took such conservative pleasure from isolationistic and “English Only” politics and policies, which proves devastating for this upcoming generation of grads in a global job market where even American companies are favoring foreign grads who are multi-lingual and tolerant without hateful Web postings, which are considered prior to job interviews these days by larger corporations. One important opportunity young people need to consider is re-locating to other nations. Many young families are finding significant opportunities when they think outside of the lines in that regard. More people, especially well-educated and Babyboomers are LEAVING this nation to become part of the global community than are immigrating here. Comfortable, safe, hopeful American ex-pat communities are flourishing everywhere now, even in China. My father travels extensively and he describes ex-pat communities as having that lucious pre-Reagan hopeful, facing-the-future-brightly boom economy feeling that we once had here in America. I would want to raise children these days in such communities rather than in a nation which tolerates 35,000 gunshot deaths annually and 65,000 additional wounded. Intelligent young people should seek them out.

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