It could be said that ours has been the most difficult time to be a college student, and the bleaker our situation gets, the harder it is to find ways of staying positive.
Every year means more debt and higher unemployment. Back in June, our economy added only 80,000 jobs of which, according to the Center for Economic Policy and Research, 58% have been filled by those 55 and up. They have the work place experience that the young and recently graduated lack. Employers are therefore less willing to hire young people and recent graduates.
Statistically speaking, the employment outlook for recently graduated college students is bleak at best. According to an article in “The Atlantic,” 53% of them will be under- or unemployed, struggling to gain the experience they need to acquire a job in their field.
Everywhere young people look, a more and more bleak picture of their future is being painted. With looming debt and unemployment, sometimes it feels more fiscally responsible to simply not get out of bed in the morning.
So how do we deal with this constant message of gloom and doom? According to increasingly pervasive research, the answer is hope. “Hope” is not to be confused with “optimism;” optimists believe that good things will happen; while the hopeful believe that they can make good things happen.
According to a study in the “Journal of Educational Psychology” titled “Hope and Academic Success in College,” this type of hope results in a higher cumulative GPA, a higher likelihood of graduation, and a lower likelihood of dropping out or being dismissed because of low grades. Another study in the “Journal of Research in Personality,” which found that hope is a greater predictor of academic success than intelligence, explains the two criteria for this type of hope. The first is “agency,” a person’s determination that their goals can be achieved; the second is “pathways,” which is the belief that there are successful strategies available for reaching those goals.
But how does one achieve this level of hope while all surrounding forces are pushing toward the opposite (as proven by America’s lucrative antidepressant market)? It’s all about visualizing your goals, and yes, while daydreaming is a part of this, so is determining the obstacles that may pop up along the way.
So next time you feel like drawing the shades, curling up in bed, and removing yourself completely from the world of stress and heartache, try this. Write down your goals along with three steps that must be taken to achieve each one; include in those steps the solution to at least one obstacle that you might face in the process. It is also important to find role models, as well as develop personal stress management strategies to keep from feeling overwhelmed.
Of course, becoming more hopeful is a process that won’t happen overnight, but it has been proven that increased hope can raise your chances of achieving your goals. It’s worth the effort.