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Perspectives from the Class of '09

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June 9, 2009

What do this year’s graduates think about the future? You’d be surprised.

In this week’s New York Magazine, more than 200 students – college grads, grad-school matriculators and even some 5th graders were interviewed to see how they felt about the world around them.

“During its limited years on Earth, the Class of ’09 has endured more than its share of insults from the older generation – condemned as MySpace narcissists and entitled lazy-asses, not to mention hookup addicts and/or rainbow party attendees,” writes Emily Nussbaum. “Worse, having come of age traumatized by 9/11 and the ugly war that followed, they are graduating just as the economic bubble pops. Who could blame these new graduates if they were, as a demographic slice, feeling put-upon, even downright bitter?”

The results of the magazine’s informal survey, however, don’t show that bitterness. Instead, there is a renewed optimism for new beginnings. Here are some of the highlights from the story:

•    81 percent of those polled describe themselves as optimists.
•    91 percent think the country will be better off in five years. Three percent think the country will be worse off.

“I’m excited about the future,” said one 21-year-old. “I’ve got even less to lose in this economy.”

“This crisis is forcing people to make difficult decisions about what they really want to do with their lives,” said a 27-year-old. “But in 10 years, my classmates will be doing incredible things.”

To the question, “who’s most to blame for the economic downturn?” Thirty-six percent pointed to bankers, 31 percent said everyone was at fault, 17 percent said irresponsible Americans and 16 percent blamed the economy on politicians.

Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed said the recession will last one to two years. Twenty-six percent they see it lasting more than three years.

Eighty-eight percent of these graduates said they did not blame the previous generation, while 10 percent did. “No, they were just pursuing a false sense of well-being through possessions they didn’t actually need,” said one 18-year-old. “It’s pathetic, but that’s how they were raised.”

Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed reported they had a Facebook profile, while only 24 percent said they were on Twitter.

And get this – 100 percent of those fifth graders interviewed said they had a cell phone. “But I don’t remember my number,” said one 12-year-old.

Fifth graders also use Twitter –sometimes. But when asked if he knew what it is, one 10-year-old said, “Yes, it means that you sometimes shake when you’re nervous.”

To read the whole story go here.

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