"Diminished Lives and Futures: A Portrait of America in the Great-Recession Era," written by a group from the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, presents polling data that suggest that most people have surrendered themselves to a "diminished" future for themselves and their children. The authors sum up their findings by writing:
When asked about the future of employment, college affordability, job security, retirement, and other tenets of American prosperity, more than twice as many respondents have a negative vision of the future compared to those with a positive one. Just 19% agree that overall job, career, and employment opportunities will be better for the next generation. Six in ten Americans believe they will not recover from the effects of the recession, a sobering assessment of the American recovery. (20)
The vision of the future for college is especially grim, given that "six times as many people feel the ability of young people to afford a college education is a thing of the past" than believe it will be affordable (10). That suggests that parents may be discouraging their kids from going to college and may already be pushing them toward trade schools.
Part of why people may hold such pessimistic views is highlighted by the Rutgers news release on the study, titled "Rutgers' Heldrich Center Study Finds Three in Four Americans Touched Personally by Great Recession." With so many people having personal or close contact with job loss and financial insecurity, it is little wonder they are pessimistic.