President Obama’s visit to New York to address students at Barnard College shows that presidential campaign strategists give graduating seniors high priority in the election of 2012.
Certainly the economy is one of the graduates’ greatest concerns. Like all Americans, the students going out into the world are worried about jobs. There is conflicting evidence about how they feel about the future that faces them.
Frank Bruni in the New York Times says that half of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed and that those who fail to major in business, engineering or the sciences will wind up in much less challenging jobs than their classmates.
More than 50 percent of college graduates under age 25 are either jobless or underemployed, according to an analysis from Drexel University and the Economic Policy Institute. The job prospects for holders of bachelor’s degrees dropped last year to the lowest level in more than a decade.
On the other hand, the Associated Press’s Scott Mayerowitz sees a brighter picture. “To the relief of graduating seniors -- and their anxious parents -- the outlook is brighter than it has been In four years,” he writes. “Campus job fairs were packed their spring and more companies are hiring. Students aren’t just finding good opportunities, some are weighing multiple offers.”
At Barnard, the president exhorted the young women graduates to”fight for a seat at the head of the table.” And he called for higher moral standards in the business world.
One New York professor of women’s studies and English, Heather Hewett of New Paltz, told me that, of her students, many find the future “challenging.” She says that they are “passionate” about wanting to find their place in the world.
Some, she says, are anxious about the job prospects for the future but many more are “self starters” who look forward to the economic future with optimism.