Lauren Rabaino

From the looks of it, we are in a recession. The value of the dollar is dropping overseas, house prices are falling and companies are cutting back. Experts argue that what we are experiencing now could be the worst since World War II. So what does that mean for the average college student? Not much, unless you’re graduating.

Economists define a recession as two consecutive quarters of economic decline (a drop in the country’s gross domestic product). Since 1980, there have only been four recessions, the last of which was in 2001. Being young teens then, I doubt many of us remember much about it. We are what the U.K.’s Motley Fool calls “recession virgins,” and for those of us who are graduating, it could be a pretty painful first time.

As a student enrolled in my last quarter of college, much of my attention, beyond completing my senior project, has turned to the inevitable future. In all honesty, I hadn’t given much thought to the looming recession (like most college students, I am assuming) until I read an article last week about its effects on the job market, specifically for recent grads. Since then, my already questionable “chosen career path” seems even more unclear.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the federal government released information last week that said U.S. employers have cut over 232,000 jobs in the past three months. Of those roughly a quarter of a million jobs, the 80,000 lost in March was the biggest employment drop in five years. Moreover, along with cutting positions, many employers are suspending their employee training programs, falling away from hiring new graduates.

Online career sites report a lull in job postings and many students (like myself) who do not have jobs already lined up, experience a fairly negative response to employment inquiries. It’s true, 2008 grads will have more opportunities then peers that graduated a year before, but the increase originally anticipated is much less, an estimated eight percent rise according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

If you’re not depressed enough already, here is another interesting tidbit. To make matters worse, especially for those among us counting calories, recessions and falling economies tend to decrease a person’s willpower to lose weight, among other things. According to an editorial featured in the New York Times (“Tighten Your Belt, Strengthen Your Mind”), the brain is limited in its ability to self-regulate. When willpower is focused on one particular goal, let’s say, spending less money, then other areas of self-control (i.e. eating less) often lose out.

Overweight and unemployed. Sucks for us.

So what’s a young college graduate to do? There are roughly 1.5 million of us out there graduating this spring, ready to dip a toe into the career pool, and interestingly enough, we began our college education during an optimistic economy.

Many grads are reaching out overseas for employment. Those less motivated are using the pessimistic job market as an excuse to crash on Mom and Dad’s couch. There are also the thousands who seek shelter in the recession-proof place known as graduate school.

If none of these options are appealing, there is some good news to keep you on the job hunt. CollegeGrad.com reports that the first people to be hired after recessions are college graduates. Additionally, the young, tech-savvy generation we are exactly what employers want.

I might be overstressing just a bit, but I feel that when we graduate, we all are in the same boat: broke, cheap and in pursuit of a successful future. If anything, it’s better to get this over sooner than later and enjoy it while we’re young. When else do we have the opportunity to shamelessly enjoy ugly furniture, nauseating living arrangements and empty refrigerators?

So really, the “R” word isn’t all that scary. Sure, there are a few battles ahead of us, but regardless, graduating from college is going to be a big reality check. I really don’t think that throwing this added challenge in the mix will faze us too much.

Taylor Moore is a journalism senior and a Mustang Daily current events columnist.

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