Thursday, October 27, 2011

College Grads Facing Tough Choices

Job seekers that need to work even harder

Reprinted with permission from


As the Class of 2011 graduates from college and joins the ranks of millions of other Americans desperate for work, there are several things to keep in mind for these latest members of the Austerity Generation.

The term, which implies a severe reduction in the standards of living affecting a generation of people, was last widely used during the Great Depression. The often bare and meager existence many young Americans suffered under during the 1930s shaped them and the "stability-at-all-costs" society they would later build in the 1950s.

While the situation currently is nowhere near as dire as it was in the 1930s, the collapse of the job sector, home foreclosures and creeping inflation of basic necessities are throwing many in their 20s for a loop. Promised freedom, prosperity and security as children by Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush Senior and Bill Clinton, many of us have now grown jaded and cynical as young adults when these false promises unraveled under Presidents George Bush Junior and Barack Obama.

The post-9/11 easy credit bubble fueled our fantasies of a bigger home, a newer car and a stable middle-class career, while simultaneously popping them as the scheme came undone in 2008.

We have stability now, but in the guise of the same nonimproving numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in unemployment and inflation we have had for over a year now. With several more bubbles – college tuition, government bonds and even the American dollar itself – to come down the pike, the time to wait for change has passed us. To borrow a phrase from Mahatma Gandhi, "we must be the change we wish to see in the world."

Many current and former West Virginia University students are adapting to the changing situation instead of letting it change them. Chris Liddle was formerly one of the Class of 2011 at WVU, but in a situation becoming more and more common, has had to delay graduation and transfer back home to a local college because of financial difficulties.

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