A Look at Challenges College Students Face

College students nowadays face greater stress than any other generation, at least that’s according to a report from MSNBC that compared the mental health issues of high school and college students in the Great Depression to those in 2007.

According to the report, students face more financial challenges and social pressures that lead to anxiety issues. And with the financial crisis of 2008 and the recession, those pressures by no means lightened up.

In our first story, we looked at how you can help your college age kid deal with financial stress. Now we want to take a look at the specific challenges college students face and the ways that they can prepare for the worst in the future.

Challenges of Today’s College Student

As noted in our previous article, college-age students face a ton of pressure in today’s world, including the influences of pop culture and all the “bling” they see, high expectations based on a society focused heavily on financial success and even parents who mean well but are so overprotective that they don’t allow their children to handle finances on their own.

But those aren’t the only challenges students have to worry about.

Our last article touched on student finance and how difficult it is to pay for school, manage money while in school and make money after graduating. Of course, changes to federal student aid don’t make matters any easier. But there are even more challenges on the horizon:

1. High unemployment graduate numbers: One major issue for students is the high number of college graduates who have a difficult time finding jobs. As of 2009, employers said they would hire 22 percent fewer college graduates than 2008.

2. Recent budget cuts: All over the country, state leaders have called for budget cuts that will reduce the number of jobs available. This will make the road to finding a job that much more challenging for recent college grads.

3. Baby boomers not retiring: Because the financial crisis wiped out many 401(k) retirement accounts and caused other financial strain, many Baby Boomers have decided to stall their retirement, which leaves even fewer jobs for students looking to enter the job force.

What’s worse is that the students who are lucky enough to get jobs after graduating will still have to think about student loans and what it takes to repay them.

If any part of the equation goes wrong (paying for school, getting money and creating a good credit history while in school, getting a job after college and making good financial decisions, including paying back student loans), life could get pretty difficult. That’s why it’s good to be as prepared as possible for the (worst) future.

Preparing for Your Future

So as a potential or current college student, what steps can you take to make the trip down financial lane an easier one?

1. When preparing for college… it’s good to take note of all of the scholarship opportunities out there. Check out colleges with cheaper tuitions and sign up with FAFSA as soon as possible to be eligible for more financial aid.

2. While in college… you want to set up a budget that accounts for expected and unexpected college costs. Also, it’s good to make sure to cut costs however you can – there are definitely creative ways of cutting your college expenses. And don’t forget about managing your credit cards responsibly. Also, now is a great time to set up internships so that it will be easier to land a job once you graduate.

3. Upon graduating from college… you want to feel good about your job prospects. If you pushed for internship opportunities throughout college then you’ve increased your chances of employment after graduating. However, if the job opportunities don’t roll in, it’s good to have a financial safety net of having saved money in college or preparing to stay with someone who can help you as you get on your feet.

4. After you’ve been hired… it’s going to be more important than ever to get your finances in order. You’ll want to create a budget and learn to stay within it. Also, you’ll want to start saving for retirement as soon as possible. It’s always good to learn the ins and outs of investing while you’re young. And of course, you want to prepare for the worst by learning how to save while in a recession.

There is no doubt that the road our college-age students are facing is a bumpy one. But with an understanding of the times we’re in and a good plan for how to prepare for whatever they may face, they should be able to carve out successful futures for themselves.