Hentzel: Spur discussion on campus

Caytlin Hentzel

On campus last week, many events were going on. There were free lunches, students gathering to let their voices be heard while holding cardboard signs, and a group coming to Iowa State equipped with prizes, blow-up obstacle courses and a big question: What do you think about the current economic situation?

Involve America came to Iowa State on Wednesday. The nonpartisan organization was founded by young individuals who were passionate about informing students ages 18 to 25 about the economic changes we are all facing. It is a group purely based on discussion and education. They have been to both the University of Michigan and New Hampshire, and plan to impact other college campuses around the nation.

The team showed up with fliers, smiles and a video camera asking passing students questions about their plans after college — if they are looking for a job or continuing their education. What made many stop and contemplate was one simple question, “Are you worried about finding a job after you graduate?”

I know when I have been asked that exact question in the past, my usual response was “No.” We all live in this safe bubble where professors, advisers and parents are encouraging, saying how multitudes of students get internships, which then lead to jobs. Yet, when I thought about it more, I started to remember names of my own friends who are back in their parents’ basements, on a couch or even the bottom bunk of a sibling’s room.

So when the video camera pointed in my direction, I answered “Yes.” It is scary, what is going on in terms of the job situation. I worry about what is going to make me stand out from other applicants who are desperate for the same opportunity to pay off loans, make rent and a car payment, and still try to go see that movie coming out Friday.

We, as a country, see more and more people picking up an unemployment check or having to work three jobs to pay for college. The current unemployment rate, as of Sept. 2011, is 9.1 percent. In a nutshell, you should be worried because expenses are only going to go up in terms of student debt, national debt and cost of living, and job security is starting to wane.

I decided to check out Involve America’s website and was intrigued by a poll on the homepage. I took it and was amazed at what the results revealed. Eighty-one percent say that a better way to manage the national debt is by lowering federal spending and 19 percent said to raise taxes. Another question asked what students plan to do after they earn their college degrees. Seventy-two percent said they will look for a job, 19 percent will apply to graduate school and 9 percent said “other.”

Good luck to the 72 percent hoping to get a job, because when looking at the U.S. Debt Clock, I can just imagine how much the number will lower in terms of the percentage of people hoping for a job and getting a job. Check out the U.S. Debt Clock, it will help give you an idea of what your future will look like when you graduate with a degree and go out into the real world.

This week has opened a lot of people’s eyes, especially with the protests on Wall Street. Be sure to let your voice be heard. Talk to your friends about the topics of jobs, cost of living, wages, tuition and the national debt. What do you think?