So the economy isn’t looking too good. For many of us, graduation draws ever nearer, and we look at the “real world” like nervous skydivers lacking confidence in their parachutes. Job searching may yield good results for some, but the fear of rejection and the image branded into us from the bleak economic news makes us realize not everyone can get that golden job.
Statistics help highlight the grim situation: Less than one-fifth of the beleaguered class of 2009 job hunters found employment, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics helpfully adds that as of August 2009, 15.1 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds are currently unemployed; the percentage for 25- to 34-year-olds only decreased by about a third — 10.4 percent.
With such a gloomy outlook, it’s easy to try letting the problem simmer and coming back to it later.
Go ahead and grip onto that red Solo cup a little tighter and savor the party music like it’s the last time you’ll hear it. If things don’t work out, then we might end up like Will Ferrell in Step Brothers: living at home with Mom and Dad (cue dramatic music).
For most of us, moving back home is an option from anywhere between Plan B and Plan Z. A few might think of it as Plan A because it’s a smarter, cheaper way to live, but the move from being an independent college student back to the house-of-lesser-freedom is equally tough. No matter how many plans are made to ensure a steady transition into post-grad life, moving back home is pretty much a universal and glaringly obvious option that anyone with an avoid-at-all-costs attitude must eventually face.
The signs are all there: the bad economy, the increasing unemployment rate, the housing crisis. We are becoming more and more defined as the “boomerang generation.”
The term was coined to describe the trend of young adults who, after spending a period of time away, find themselves returning home. According to a survey conducted by the job aggregator Monster.com, 48 percent of graduates from the class of 2008 said they planned to return to their parents’ houses for at least a little bit before striking out on their own. Of those surveyed from the class of 2007, 43 percent were still living at home nine months after graduation.
It’s always been an illusion that adulthood precludes parental cohabitation. The occasional knocking of heads is inevitable when moving back home, but it’s important to look at the bigger picture. Ultimately, the situation needs to be re-evaluated — moving back home for a short amount of time might be the only option for many frustrated graduates.
First off, there has to be a well-thought-out and discussed plan. That doesn’t mean that the move back home should just be the fallback result of the failed job search. The first thing to do is to look at the move as a step forward rather than a step back. Nobody ever said we had to figure out exactly what we’re going to do with the rest of our life in four years. Returning to the roost is an opportunity in the same way that moving out to college was.
Second, it’s important to preserve that same enthusiasm carried throughout college. Losing that will pretty much negate the reason for coming to USC in the first place. Home for the post-grad should not just be the place to catch up on television and old friends. If home is close to school, students should keep close to campus to take advantage of the resources. If it isn’t, they should make use of alumni resources. Ultimately, it’s important to maximize the opportunities at hand.
The restricted freedom may seem like a huge hindrance, but letting that perspective go without debate seals defeat. Negotiation is key to surviving the transition back home. As long as grads don’t slack off on the job search and give serious thought to what they want to do (remember that parents aren’t mind readers), freedom should be less of an issue.
So you can keep holding onto that red Solo cup to enjoy the last bit of college fun. Or you can put it down for a second and strategically plan the graceful exit from college. Either way, the door to the real world is open.
Victor Luo is a junior majoring in creative writing.