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Posted by on May 19, 2011 in Career, Education, TG Roundup, USA

Class of 2011, Shall I Congratulate You or Apologize?

George Mason University Class of 2011: Hope the Smiles Sustain

Graduation time at Mason has been one of the best times on my job. This is a time of the year we all look forward to. Students with smiley faces and beaming optimism, and joy-filled parents – the euphoria is contagious. It is also a moment of pride for all the faculty. The pride is doubled when a student wants to take a picture with the faculty.

I just came back from the convocation of Volgenau School of Engineering at George Mason. I noticed a big difference between the class of 2011 the the classes prior to 2009. Record number of graduates and fewer than usual show-ups at graduations. Even among those who showed up, very few of the graduates and their parents looked happy. You can clearly feel the anxiety in their faces.

Clearly, decades of lousy economic and fiscal policies by my and preceding generations have not only widened the gap between the haves and have-nots, but also robbed the dreams of the young. Graduating classes of 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011are finding it extremely hard to find a job, much less land a career they like. Via CNN

Fresh out of college, slim hope for a job

By Carl E. Van Horn and Cliff Zukin, Special to CNN

May 19, 2011 7:44 a.m. ED(CNN) — This year’s college graduates had reason to believe that job prospects for the class of 2011 might be brighter than those of recent classes tossed into the dark abyss of the Great Recession. News throughout their senior year seemed different — flush with stories of rising stocks, record corporate profits and new signs of consumer confidence.

Sadly, rumors of a recovering labor market might have been greatly exaggerated. Large numbers of recent graduates are still out searching for their first full-time job, years after their own commencement celebrations held years ago.


Members of the class of 2011 may be forced to make uncomfortable adjustments from their original expectations of post-college life to the reality described by the just slightly older graduates from the previous five years.

Young college graduates entering the labor market in 2011 are competing with millions of unemployed college graduates who have already made significant accommodations in order to get their first job: taking a position that paid a lot less than expected; working below what they regarded as their level of education; or accepting a job outside their area of interest.

And while these new graduates struggle to find their first job, most are entering the working world with a median debt of $20,000 and 83% still owe most of what they borrowed. Not surprisingly, nearly one in four graduates report that they still live with their parents as a way to manage their budgets.


Perhaps most troubling, a solid majority of recent college graduates we surveyed now believe that their generation will not do better than the one that came before them; not even half expect to have more financial success than their parents.

The corrosive effect of the Great Recession may rob the United States of much of the optimism that young graduates traditionally brought to our work force and society — replacing it with growing doubts about the long-standing American dream that each new generation will enjoy more prosperity than the last.

The foundation for much of our future is made with optimism and hope. What’s generation to do when these two are compromised?

Graduation Day: A day for pictures, smiles, joy and then for a question, "What's next?"

Comment? [This will be the PRIMARY topic on MMGL, May 20. Hope you can join the show and share your thoughts.]