College graduates changing plans as economy sputters


Students are worrying about more than just their grades according to a new study by Edison Media Research.

Nearly one in five polled students reported that at least one parent had lost a job in the past year. Many young people are taking refuge in graduate school, buying time until the economy improves even as they amass more debt from student loans. Some of the findings in the study:

  • 22% of students said they worry a lot about having enough cash to get through a typical week at school.

  • One third of students said they really worry about the finances of their parents.

  • Nearly one in five changed plans this year and decided to attend graduate or professional school because an undergraduate degree might not be enough to get them a job.

  • 11% of those whose parents lost a job veered away from grad school because they could not afford it.

I don't want to sound like I'm short on empathy, but what's new? As long as I remember, college students have had financial problems. Many work multiple jobs and live in slum housing just to get through college. Both of my kids are in college and have to live very frugally to make it.

Like most parents, I wish we could help them more. But you know what? This is the way the world really works.In the real world, the economy goes up and down and people have to work harder to make a living. I think there are some learning experiences in this recession where kids learn there still isn't a free lunch.

Barbara Bartlein is the People Pro. For her FREE e-mail newsletter, please visit: The People Pro.