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 email@example.com.
TERRE HAUTE —
Let the doomsday crowd line up like a scene from “Animal House.”
- Mark Bennett B-Sides
MARK BENNETT: New public-access point begins quest to create more spots to experience river
Fairness holds no power over the Wabash River.
MARK BENNETT: People spaces
Demolition machinery chipped away at the buildings on the 500 block of Wabash Avenue. I stood and watched awhile, last week. By July 2015, a new $18.7-million structure will replace those relics.
MARK BENNETT: City sparkles during premiere of ‘The Drunk’
William Tanoos and Paul Fleschner cast their hometown in a starring role in their debut effort as filmmakers.
MARK BENNETT: ‘Notes on a River’ exhibition brings Wabash scenes to gallery
The best views of the Wabash come with wet, muddy feet.
MARK BENNETT: Quest for the perfect Valentine’s Day gesture may not involve gifts
You’ll need a broom, a pickup truck, trash bins, shop hooks and aspirin.
Filming a “Sanford and Son” remake? Preparing for the apocalypse?
MARK BENNETT: Illinois officials content their state has its business advantages, too
Most people count the Wabash River as an economic asset for Terre Haute. Of course, economic development officials in the Land of Lincoln beg to differ.
MARK BENNETT: Indiana should revisit its time-zone classification
Mister Spock would look at the situation in Indiana and, in that dispassionate “Star Trek” voice, utter a firm conclusion.
“That is illogical,” he’d say.
MARK BENNETT: Young at heart
Imagine an alternate ending to the old Life cereal commercial.
MARK BENNETT: The Drunk: Making peace
Terre Haute grew fond of Eugene Debs.
The process took time.
Debs film to debut at Indiana Theatre
Set in Terre Haute, based loosely on the legacy of a Terre Haute icon, the movie “The Drunk” has one appropriate place for its premiere.
MARK BENNETT: Album turns memories into musical Christmas message for Terre Haute’s Dave Frey, band
In a way, Dave Frey walked in the footsteps of Charles Schulz.
Both men worked hard to let Linus Van Pelt explain the “true meaning of Christmas.”
MARK BENNETT: ‘Longest Night Service’ a time to reflect, remember
Holiday images rarely depict hurt or struggle.
Raising the bar
Around coffeeshops, kitchen tables and office watercoolers, Hoosiers have cussed and discussed the federal health care law.
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.
- More Mark Bennett B-Sides Headlines
- MARK BENNETT: New public-access point begins quest to create more spots to experience river