Monday, July 18, 2011

US Economy - My College Years

John Petty over at Progressive Involvement posted this little chart that caught my eye:

The only years in my lifetime that the U.S. Federal Government experienced a surplus were the four years I was in college (1997-2001).  Too bad I was living a sheltered existence on the campus of a private liberal arts college.  This was before widespread Internet use, so my world view was not much bigger than Bremer County, IA.

It's no wonder all my education and music professors were filling our minds (and egos) with promises of signing bonuses, loan forgiveness, and a fast-track to administrative positions after graduating.  Over half of the teachers in the early 2000s were within 5 years of retirement.  This meant public schools would be bending over backwards for new talent to come into their communities.  And, with the World Wide Web gaining momentum as an educational resource, schools would depend on the knowledge and expertise of digital natives.

Fast forward a few years, and retirement wasn't a viable option for as many teachers.  Subsequently, lots of college grads were just hoping for a long-term substitute job to get their foot in the door, so that, one day, they might get a full-time (low-paying) job with benefits.  So much for writing our ticket or holding out for incentives.

It's been ten years since I graduated from college.  The Class of 2011 is entering into a vastly different situation - the largest gap between revenues and outlays in the last 30 years.  I wonder how they'll view this moment in history ten years from now.