Study shows young adults will feel long-term effects of recession

Young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 will likely suffer long-term psychological effects after living in a recession, including the belief that lifelong success is a result of luck rather than effort, according to a recent research paper.

According to the paper, written by Paola Giuliano and Antonio Spilimbergo of the University of California, Los Angeles, young adults are most impressionable between the ages of 18 and 25 and will form many lifelong opinions during that period of their lives. Living through a recession during those ages would lead to fiscal conservatism, a lack of faith in the government and a belief that success is based on luck rather than effort, according to the paper.

Ellen Broom, a psychology lecturer at TCU, said the recession will affect people differently.

“I think if someone looks at it and decides that everything is doom and gloom, then that learned helplessness.will make them sad,” Broom said. “However, there are going to be those other people that are going to say, ‘How can I market myself differently? How can I market myself better?'”

Michael Scott, director of financial aid, said the economy had caused a slight drop in retention rates from fall 2009 to spring 2010, but not enough to raise concerns.

“So far, we haven’t seen anything statistically significant that would indicate that there has been a behavior change,” Scott said. “I do worry that in the coming years we’ll see more families who are unable to put together the combination of resources it takes to send a child to a school like TCU.”

Scott said that because of the availability of loans with low interest rates, college students are more likely to live outside their means. Scott said some students use loans to pay for expensive dorms and meal plans without thinking about how to pay it back in the future.

“My hope is that if (the economy) causes a higher level of awareness from students, maybe it does make them think twice about borrowing large sums of money, then that might be a good thing,” Scott said.

The stress of a poor economy may be motivation for students to reassess the loans they take, Scott said.

“There are situations where a student is taking on too much debt in relation with their future earning potential, and that’s where students don’t give it that much thought,” Scott said.

Broom said that in addition to worrying about paying for college, students are concerned about competing in a job market with currently unemployed professionals.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the current economic situation is cause for concern among college students as the hiring rate for this year’s graduates is down 22 percent.

Sophomore fashion merchandising major Claire Marston said she has remained relatively calm throughout the economic downturn and is optimistic about her career prospects, unless the economy continues to decline.

“I’m not too concerned about it,” Marston said. “For me personally, I am a very versatile person, so I can work in another industry too while I wait to get a better job in the fashion industry.”

Ray Brown, dean of admissions, said he has noticed an increased financial awareness from both prospective and current students, but said the university was not the only one increasing costs in a poor economy.

“College costs are going up everywhere,” Brown said. “There is essentially no school that in any given year holds its tuition to no increase.”

Brown said economic diversity was an important aspect of selecting students for admission.

“What we are very keen on doing is making sure that we have a broad cross-section of students in terms of abilities, and talents and faith traditions, but also in terms of socio-economic status,” Brown said. “We don’t want students who are all rich. We don’t want students who are all middle class. We don’t want students who are all poor. We want a good healthy mix of all those students.”

Brown said admission officials are not planning to change how students are recruited in the poor economy. Maintaining a mix of students will help keep the university balanced, he said.

Staff writer Stephanie Sproull contributed to this report.