TERRE HAUTE —
Let the doomsday crowd line up like a scene from “Animal House.”
The naysayers will run the Class of 2012 through a gauntlet of bad news. The newest, youngest college graduates will be expected to quietly absorb the gloomy predictions with a respectful, “Thank you, sir, may I have another.” After all, the obstacles they face in the current job market loom large.
n More than half of college grads under the age of 25 were unemployed or underemployed in 2011, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. That means 53.6 percent of those folks are either jobless or working a job in which their college training is not put to use. Ouch.
n For every 1-percent increase in the national unemployment rate, students graduating in a recessionary era earn 6- to 8-percent smaller paychecks in their first year of work than people who graduated in more stable economic times, according to a Yale School of Management researcher. (The U.S. jobless rate is now 8.2 percent.) Ouch.
n The average college graduate now shoulders $25,250 in student-loan debt, according to the Project on Student Loan Debt, cited in a Medill School of Journalism report. Together, all college grads owe more than $1 trillion in outstanding student loans. Ouch.
None of those boulders is insignificant, but many of the folks who’ll earn college diplomas this weekend from Ivy Tech Community College, Indiana State University and St. Mary-of-the-Woods College have one checkmark on the positive side of their ledger that eventually will take the sting out of all those negatives.
n They’re young.
The job market eventually will improve, especially as the pace of baby boomer retirements continues to quicken. Eventually, the boomers who dominate Congress and state legislatures will be replaced by younger Americans who more keenly appreciate the magnitude of financial hardships caused by soaring college tuition rates and student-loan debt. Eventually, the latest college grads will land the job that matches their skills, even if they have to leave their hometown or home state to find it.
In fact, the people who’ll toss their caps in the air this weekend could constitute one of the nation’s strongest demographic groups. Why?
n They’re tough.
On average, those receiving degrees in ’12 started their college careers in the teeth of the Great Recession, enrolling in either the fall of 2007 (just before the economic nosedive began) or the fall of 2008 (when the financial markets and U.S. auto industry imploded). Through all of the turmoil, likely engulfing their own families, they didn’t quit, though the temptation was strong. They heard skeptics question, understandably, whether the value of a college diploma was worth the costs, yet the students kept studying. They’ve learned to think critically while surrounded by doubt. They’ve heard the phrase, “We can’t afford that.”
The days of most students working their way through a four-year college is a distant memory, because the pricetag is simply too high. Nonetheless, 78 percent of them still hold jobs while they’re enrolled, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Upon graduating, instead of immediately saving for the American dream of a house and a car, they must first focus on paying off their student-loan debt. Maybe that humbling experience will prepare their generation to handle mortgages, auto purchases and credit cards more wisely than their predecessors. They’ll develop patience sooner.
As overwhelming as the debt predicament seems, the Class of 2012 did the right thing by persevering. Eventually, it will be rewarded for completing its education. Seven of the 10 fastest-growing jobs in the United States require a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment rates are lower for college grads overall, and their average annual incomes are higher.
Most crucial, they chose to continue learning. That knowledge will be their asset, even as they enter an economy that is gradually healing from a mess those young people did not create. That entry into the “real world” may include an initiation filled with ominous predictions, but this fresh crop of grads will have many more legitimate reasons to celebrate this weekend. They stuck it out through some of the toughest times in decades.
We should be thanking them.
Mark Bennett can be reached at (812) 231-4377 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TERRE HAUTE —
Let the doomsday crowd line up like a scene from “Animal House.”
- Mark Bennett B-Sides
John bypassed by Hall of Fame again
Baseball Hall of Fame electors have bypassed Tommy John again. The Terre Haute-born pitcher, who won 288 games in 26 big-league seasons, didn’t receive enough votes from the Veterans Committee as it cast ballots on Sunday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., at the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings.
Tim Meadows: SNL cast member knew he was prime time
If you watched the first broadcast of “Saturday Night Live” on Oct. 11, 1975, raise your hand.
That gives you something in common with Tim Meadows.
MARK BENNETT: Walk of Fame inductee would stand tall in any era
Unlike most of us, Amory Kinney didn’t let the wall around his comfort zone grow taller as time passed.
MARK BENNETT: Words, and what they mean, is what we remember
I remember scanning the granite wall at the grave of President John F. Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery, looking for those words.
MARK BENNETT: Tommy John getting another shot at Baseball Hall of Fame
Go ahead, circle Dec. 9 on your calendar.
Filling our void: Terre Haute artist Bill Wolfe poured his heart and soul into the project of a lifetime
Bill Wolfe thumbed through a series of photographs documenting his sculpture of basketball legend Larry Bird.
MARK BENNETT: Keeping Terre Haute a vibrant city ‘worth doing’
The past, present and future had just converged at the Crossroads of America.
The moment was made possible by the gutsy spirit of 1920s Terre Haute. Without it, the city would look starkly different.
MARK BENNETT: Tommy John’s Field of Dreams
A kid pedals a bicycle, a ball glove looped over the handlebar, headed to a sandlot game.
It didn’t get much better than that for a 10-year-old in summertime.
MARK BENNETT: Indiana’s Donnelly part of ‘The Middle’ that got deal done
Hanging out in the middle isn’t cool.
Its occupants don’t attract a captivated circle of listeners at parties, their comments don’t inspire hell-yeahs on Facebook, and they don’t pretend to always be right.
MARK BENNETT: ISU professor’s book on Churchill to be TV period drama
Somewhere, Winston Churchill is lighting a celebratory cigar in Michael Shelden’s honor.
MARK BENNETT: Restoration improves courthouse top’s standing in skyline
Terre Haute has a skyline.
From some angles, it consists of billboards, restaurant marquees and convenience-store signs. From other spots, the outlines of historic buildings, church steeples, college dorms and old industries jut into the horizon.
MARK BENNETT: Inspiring project connects Blues Festival, B&G Club members with music
Think a decade into the future. You’re relaxing amid a sea of fellow lawn-chair sitters at Seventh and Wabash, watching the 23rd annual Blues at the Crossroads Festival. Suddenly, the guy on stage starts playing your old Fender guitar. He sounds like the next B.B. King. Then, the guitarist dedicates a song to the person who donated that worn Telecaster to the youth music program in which he learned to play it.
MARK BENNETT: Even Marty McFly wouldn’t want to go back to those paydays
Reliving the 1980s may sound tempting.
Ah, simpler times. Then again … hair styles as big as mushroom clouds, “Miami Vice” jackets, the trickle-down theory, New Coke, Yugos.
OK, “Back to the Future”-style nostalgia obviously has its limits.
MARK BENNETT: Hoops film focuses on life of ‘Slick’ Leonard
Many Americans connect basketball with Indiana.
MARK BENNETT: Rose-Hulman bridge design would let people walk, run, ride across Wabash River
Four months, 500 miles and 18 towns.
In the course of compiling the “500 Miles of Wabash” series, which concludes this Sunday, Tribune-Star photographer Jim Avelis and I heard valuable insights from dozens of people who live, work and recreate along Indiana’s state river. One comment seems particularly relevant to Terre Haute, especially as the ongoing 2013 Year of the River celebration stirs ideas. The quotation affirms the potential of a stellar proposal this community ought to consider.
MARK BENNETT: When did athleticism surpass skill in sports?
Baseball has gotten too athletic.
MARK BENNETT: Steve Martin keeps Terre Haute on burner
If insults are a form of flattery, Steve Martin still likes us.
Better yet, he hasn’t forgotten us.
MARK BENNETT: At 71, Paul McCartney still rocking it eight days a week
I’ll admit, I worried about Paul McCartney during the blistering intro to “Helter Skelter.”
MARK BENNETT: Forget the cellphone, enjoy the summer
The third rail post from the left on the second-floor patio. By holding a cellphone at eye level, with your left hand, while standing perfectly still, without blinking, a faint one-bar signal was possible. Possible. Otherwise, there was no connection to the outside world at this retreat spot in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, where my wife and I stayed earlier this month
MARK BENNETT: Time for surf, sand and a good book
I can read a book on the beach. Until I start sweating. Then it feels like exercise, minus the fitness perks. My brain shifts into neutral as the waves roll in, blissfully washing away footprints in the sand and my inclination to think. Better put, I enjoy starting a book on the beach, and finishing it later, elsewhere.
Police: Mom, son conspire to kill witness
The Clay County Sheriff’s Department seems to have prevented what it believes was a mother-and-son conspiracy to commit murder.
Banks of the Wabash Festival is more than just yearly entertainment
Pioneers think counterintuitively. Where others see widespread apathy, they focus on the possibility for progress. In a way, the 2013 Year of the River celebration began in the 1970s.
MARK BENNETT: After running for 28 hours straight, what’s another 5 miles?
Some phrases can only be uttered by a few people, or none at all.
MARK BENNETT: Glitches show limitations of high-stakes testing concept
The dog ate my homework. That age-old excuse — based on a shockingly unforeseen complication — rarely works for a kid who didn’t finish yesterday’s math assignment. Yet, in a role reversal, Indiana school children, along with their teachers and administrators, are left to accept an explanation for a disruption best described as the mother of all ironies.
MARK BENNETT: One step at a time to save lives
Remember that name.
MARK BENNETT: Sometimes, the mere posing of questions is significant
The era seems quaint now, almost like a fable. When people left their house doors unlocked. When the sight of a police officer in a school meant it was Career Day.
MARK BENNETT: New reality steers Nashville singer to Crossroads for Historical Society concert
People pass through the Crossroads of America for lots of reasons.
Business trips. College campus events. Federal prison sentences. Visits with relatives. Gas pitstops.
Or maybe a career change and a twist of fate.
Ty Brown makes his first stop in downtown Terre Haute as the headliner of a multi-band Sweet Sensations Country Jam concert May 4 in the Ohio Building — a fundraiser for the Vigo County Historical Society.
MARK BENNETT: Terre Haute barber ‘sharpens up’ customers for 50 years
People streamed through this section of downtown Terre Haute in those days.
“You could hardly walk by here,” John Hochhalter said, pointing toward the sidewalk outside the window.
The bustle has faded since the early 1960s. Hochhalter remains. He’s still barbering in the same shop he and late business partner Kenny Thomas opened a half-century ago this week.
MARK BENNETT: Memories, emotions rush back with announcement of new pope
I saw a pope once.Read quickly, that sentence sounds too casual, almost as if we’d crossed paths at Home Depot. Say it slowly, though, and the significance comes through.
MARK BENNETT: Reflections of grid success stir with Brent Anderson’s passing
A few hundred miles away, and nearly 40 years gone by, a special game ball still occupies a fond place in Rudy Bohinc’s memories.
- More Mark Bennett B-Sides Headlines
- John bypassed by Hall of Fame again