It is said youth is wasted on the young. According to a new qSample study, could it also mean that optimism is wasted on the young?
The answer is probably no, for college students have a focused, sober eye on economic issues and their incoming position in the workplace. Regardless of relatively uncertain economic and political times—that include student debt and soaring tuition—University students are mostly hopeful for their financial future.
The study was conducted using qSample’s college student sample, surveying more than 200 respondents on a range of social and economic topics. We surveyed respondents from our Campus Universe initiative—regularly utilized for varied studies for both academics and businesses.
College Student Views on Careers and the Economy
When asked about the future of the economy, 34% of college students held a positive view. Twenty-eight percent expressed a negative view, with 27% stating they were undecided. When asked how they would fare economically in comparison to their parents, 35% of respondents felt they would do better—with 29% feeling they would do worse and 12% not sure.
When asked about the most important issues of their times, here is how they responded:
1. The economy/job growth – 29%
2. Education reform/college debt relief – 25%
3. Climate change – 23%
4. Freedom/individual rights -14%
5. Terrorism – 6%
College students also view the economy as the key issue when it comes to the upcoming presidential election:
1. The economy – 43%
2. Racial/equality issues – 26%
3. National security – 13%
4. Abortion/reproductive rights – 8%
College Student and Debt
One might think that college debt would be more at the forefront of the minds of college students. After all, the study revealed that a majority (25%) would owe between $50,001 and $75,000 once they graduated. Eighteen percent say they will owe less than $25,000 after graduating while 24% claimed they would owe no debt. Ten percent of college students stated they would owe more than $100,000 after graduation.
In a past qSample study, more than 30% of college students anticipated their loans to be paid off in 5-10 years, while 27% were unsure. Sixty-seven percent considered their amount of debt manageable, with the remaining students worried that their debt would become unmanageable amount.
In fact, 31% of participants indicated they worry “all the time” about the amount of debt are incurring while pursuing a higher education. Forty-eight percent of the college students worry “sometimes” and 21% “never” worry about their ability to repay their student loans.
One could surmise that college students are fixated on making enough money to show their debt was an investment. After all, it’s all business after graduation, according to the qSample findings. An overwhelming 71% of college students said their priority after graduation is finding work. Activism, relationship, traveling and other post-university goals all registered below ten percent in interest.
College Students and Social Issues
It’s not all Yuppiedom for college students. These are the rankings on how they would like to be viewed once leaving higher education:
1. A good moral/ethical person – 37%
2. Ability to make money – 29%
3. An activist for social change – 13%
4. A good spouse – 6%
5. A social person with close friends – 5%
6. A good father/mother – 3%
But who do college students look up to as they migrate into the workforce? When it comes to public figures, President Obama comes in first (35%) and Pope Francis in second (17%). All other public figures or celebrities scored less than ten percent, with the exception of Steve Jobs at 11% (who is no longer alive).
As for social media, the below graphic reveals college student attitudes towards social media in relation to society:
With a mind on money and a positive heart, the research should give hope to the country’s future. Millennials spend $600 million a year in the U.S. alone, with some estimates having them reach $3 billion in a decade as they begin to dominate the workforce. Thus, the economy should be in good hands, unless these graduates are hamstrung with the student debt and not enough salary growth.
Please enjoy our infographic below, based on our syndicated research on College Students and Stress:
Download this infographic.