It’s election season again, but if you were to check the pulse of the average college student, you likely wouldn’t feel the same buoyant rhythm of four years ago.
Instead, you’d find a tepid tremble, if anything at all.
In less than one election cycle, student enthusiasm for politics has plummeted.
A friend poked his head out of the miasmic doldrums for a brief moment to offer up this telling thought:
“No matter who wins this election,” he said. “We lose.”
He said he’s considering voting for Mickey Mouse this time around or, “even worse, the Green Party candidate.”
This friend of mine is a college student.
His apathy is understandable.
Data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows about 53 percent of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 are either jobless or underemployed.
Even if most college students aren’t familiar with that particular statistic, any one of us could name a recently graduated friend who has taken up a dead-end job just to make a few frayed ends meet.
If you ask most college students why they’re in school, they’ll tell you they want the increased job security a college degree is said to confer.
The idea of pursuing higher education for its own sake is slipping into antiquity, and in some circles, it’s already completely unheard of.
All that would be fine, I suppose, if investing in college still yielded the desired result –gainful employment. As the data shows, it does not.
Students talk of going to graduate or law school, figuring advanced degrees are the surest way to make their investment in education pay off. As droves of jobless law school grads will tell you, even advanced degrees aren’t guaranteed to give you an edge anymore.
The idea of quitting school and tossing away years of study and thousands of dollars is nauseating once you’re already enrolled in college. So, naturally, students dig their heels into the ground and stick it out, even if that means accruing frightening sums of student loan debt.
This is the college student’s dilemma, and it looms ominous over campuses nationwide.
President Barack Obama wooed students four years ago by transmuting their hostility toward politics into hope for better governance.
Since taking office, Obama’s leadership has led to notable gains for college students, despite falling short of expectations in other arenas.
Obama has fast-tracked congressional provisions lowering monthly payments on student loans and improving on debt forgiveness policies.
He also expanded the reach of the Pell Grant program, reducing the financial burden on low-income and middle-class students.
Mitt Romney, if elected, would work to see this progress reversed.
Polling shows the majority of college students still believe Obama can represent their financial interests and social values better than a Republican president.
To win, Obama must rekindle the excitement students had for his campaign years ago. To do that, he’ll have to remind them that despite what dismal employment numbers suggest, he still has students’ best interests at heart.
There’s little over a month left before Election Day. The clock is ticking.