The Federal Reserve recently released a report that shows nearly 19% of student loan borrowers owe more than ,000 dollars, up 13% from 2001. Along with the high debt, jobs are scarce leaving very little opportunity for grads and jobseekers to dig themselves out of the hole. It seems that college graduates are being put in exactly the position having a college degree is supposed to prevent. An entire generation is caught in a perpetual Catch 22 where a Bachelor’s degree is an absolute necessity while at the same time far from a guarantee of securing employment. What was once a winning lottery ticket now simply serves as a possibility that a person, when the time comes, might have a shot at an entry level position, an entry level position with a salary that will barely make ends meet, let alone allow somebody to pay off their tremendous student loan debt. Albert, a 24 year old from New Jersey who went to a prominent University in the New England area says, “I owe ,000 dollars in student loans and I have yet to find a job. What scares me the most is that despite my efforts it seems that the job search has been producing less and less results. When I first graduated, I actually received an offer and accepted it. It was rescinded when the company took a turn for the worse and began laying off employees. After that I was getting a pretty steady flow of interviews though no offers. As time went on it is if it has dried up completely. I apply to an average of thirty jobs a day and haven’t gotten so much as a phone call in 4 months. I don’t have a degree in business from Harvard and I wasn’t the valedictorian of my graduating class but I graduated with a very good GPA and a decent major. I’m not saying companies should be clamoring for my services but you would think there would be a couple of jobs available for a capable and educated person.” With very few new jobs this year according to the latest release of the unemployment statistics, it’s no surprise that there are more and more people facing the same problems that Albert is. Another recent grad facing serious problems is Diane, who attended a major University in New York City. Diane didn’t attend college right after high school choosing instead to enter the workforces. After a series of unsatisfying and dead end jobs, she decided to apply to college at age 24. Four years later she graduated with honors with a degree in Political Science. Two years remove from graduation and now 30 years old Diana hasn’t gotten a job offer that requires a college degree. About her current situation she says, “I went to college to improve my situation, to make myself more marketable. I wanted more options. In the two years since I’ve graduated, I’ve had four interviews and no job offers. I owe ,000 dollars in student loans and have absolutely no way to pay that back. For the past few months I’ve been working part-time as a restaurant hostess. It can be really discouraging when you did exactly what you were supposed to do and can’t even get your foot in the door. How can a grown woman support herself on a part-time salary? I want to believe I did the right thing by going to college, I truly do but most times I find myself wishing I had never gone. Before I went I had low-=paying jobs but at least I had no debt. It’s crippling and it definitely makes me question whether or not I did the right thing.” With successful college graduates unable to secure gainful employment, what does the future hold for them? Not having a college degree completely takes you out of the race but having one is simply a ticket to enter a race that never starts. This generation is going to be full of educated people unable to ever escape their crippling debt. There must be some solution to this problem but it needs to be found sooner rather than later because Albert and Diana are far from being alone.
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