Gallery of art and thoughts

The cartoons and contemplations of a twentysomething copy editor.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The woes of Generation X

Ten years ago this day, I was admitted into Harvard. I felt like my future was secured and that, like Tom Buchanan, I "had reached such an acute limited excellence in life" at age seventeen "that everything else savors of anticlimax."

After getting my bachelor's at Harvard and a master's in journalism at Columbia, I'm now dealing with paying off student loans. This makes me a typical Gen-Xer, according to this Business Week article, which describes the indebtedness of today's twenty- and thirtysomethings.

This indebtedness is ascribed to two factors: rising college costs, and the increased availability and use of credit cards. While the article does not attempt to find out why these factors have increased, it does present some compelling portraits of young people dealing with the stresses of insurmountable costs. Among them: Cristina Garcia Gamboa, 30, and her husband Manuel. Both have graduate degrees, she from Medill and he from Texas, but the price is steep: they plan to pay $1,256 a month over a decade to settle their student loans.

The result of these troubles? Tamara Draut, director of the New York-based economic opportunity program Demos, says, "This is the first generation who won't necessarily do better than their parents. They've been told: 'Apply yourself. You'll get a job, a home.' For many young people that's not the case."

Postscript: Poorer members of Generation Y are feeling the hardship, too, according to this Boston Globe Magazine article.