Special to Mustang News
The alarm on his iPhone goes off too early for his liking, as per usual.
After hitting snooze a couple times, he peels himself from bed and begins getting ready for another day. Once dressed, he heads to the kitchen for some breakfast and finds a lunch his stepdad made for him. Though his stepdad has made a habit of packing him lunch, he is always pleasantly surprised by the gesture, as he wouldn’t bother making a lunch for himself anyway.
The lunch is just one of the things that recent Cal Poly graduate William Schoepp is getting used to now that he lives back at home with his mom and stepdad in Novato, California. Schoepp didn’t always plan to move back home, but after graduating from Cal Poly last spring, he found himself with outstanding student debt.
The boomerang generation is a term used to describe the current generation of young adults who move back in with their parents after briefly living independently. These students live with their parents their whole lives, leaves briefly to attend college and returns right back home, like a boomerang.
Assistant Director for Career Services at Cal Poly Charlotte Rinaldi said she has noticed a trend of more Cal Poly graduates moving back home with their parents within the past 15 years. While Career Services does not collect data about where graduates live after they graduate, Rinaldi said it is not uncommon for students to move back home after graduation.
“I have definitely seen a trend in more students moving back in with their parents after they graduate, and the funny thing is that the students actually like their parents and are happy to live with them,” Rinaldi said.
According to Lisa Kahn, a labor economist and associate professor of economics at Yale University, nearly 45 percent of 25-year-olds have outstanding loans, with an average debt above $20,000. Twenty-five percent of people in their 20s and early 30s are currently living with their parents. That’s a substantial increase from only one generation ago, when just one in 10 young adults moved back home.
“I moved back home to save money and pay back some student debt to the bank of grandma,” Schoepp said.
Luckily for Schoepp, his living situation is short term.
He plans to move to San Francisco with friends in February. He also has a job, while more than half of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, according to Kahn.
Luckily for Schoepp, he is a Cal Poly grad.
According to the Graduate Status Report (GSR) conducted by Career Services, Cal Poly grads are generally successful. The GSR for 2012-13 states that of Cal Poly students who graduated in 2013, 86 percent were employed within three months after graduation, and 14 percent were employed within four to nine months after graduation. Additionally, 92 percent work in major-related fields.
Schoepp majored in construction management and now works as a project manager for BNBuilders, which is a job he always wanted. He doesn’t mind living with his mom and stepdad for now and said he enjoys the free food and rent.
“I would say my productivity level is pretty sky high, because I don’t really have very many friends at home to hang out with,” Schoepp said. “I just go home and start planning my day out for the next day to try and make it easier for myself.”
Damon Casarez, a photographer and boomerang kid himself, was intrigued by the boomerang generation and had the idea to create a series of portraits of graduates across the country who had to move back home for financial reasons or who had never been able to leave. The series was commissioned by the New York Times Magazine and was photographed in eight states and 14 cities across the U.S.
Casarez said the adjective that best describes the graduates he photographed is hopeful. The graduates he met were not lazy freeloaders but successful students faced with the harshness of the current economy.
“I think for a lot of the people, there was no choice,” he said. “Their last resort was to move back home with their parents. If there’s no work, and you have $1,400-a-month payments on your loans, I don’t know what else you’re going to do.”
Casarez recognizes the practicality of moving back home but stressed that graduates shouldn’t get too comfortable living with their parents.
“I would just say to have a solid plan, because if you don’t, then it’s really easy to get comfortable living at home just because you have everything,” Casarez said. “You don’t have to worry about food and rent, in most cases, and it’s very easy to get stuck there for a long time.”
But for motivated graduates who see moving back in with parents as a necessary step to take before making it on their own, living at home isn’t so bad.