Due to today's struggling economy, many young people are less inclined to believe in the "American Dream" than their parents and grandparents. "More than 4 in 10 predict it will be tougher to raise a family and afford the lifestyle they want," according to a poll conducted by an Associate Press-Viacom poll of Americans aged 18 to 24. But this has not prevented African Americans or whites from feeling hopeful that they will be able to adapt and cope with their circumstances.
"Social Security may not even exist when I'm older. Health insurance is going up. Everything just costs more," said Ashley Yates, a nursing student at San Francisco State University. But students like her are not shaken by the dismal economy. 90 percent of the 1,104 participants surveyed actually believe that they will find a career that will bring them happiness.
Young adults are willing to take on second jobs to supplement their incomes to make up for low salaries and there is a trend of optimism. More students and young professionals are determined to better their individual circumstances even if they believe that the general population will not be able to accomplish their goals.
"Even if it never gets better permanently, we'll adjust to whatever it is," said Preus, 22, a linguistics and cognitive science grad from Cornell University who plans to pursue her passion for science in graduate school.
A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation-Harvard University poll discovered the economic crisis within the last few years has eliminated nearly a fifth of Americans' net worth. African Americans and Hispanics were more likely to be left broke, jobless and concerned that they lack the skills needed to gain profitable careers. But they also remained the most hopeful that they would eventually be able to prosper.
AOL BlackVoices also reported that black teens were more optimistic about their economic futures compared to the general population. Seventy percent of black students ages 15 to 18 thought their standard of living would be better than their parents, compared with just 36 percent of white students, according to a Hamilton College poll.
In contrast, white baby boomers were not as hopeful. "I think things are going to get worse before they get better. A lot of people are going to have to buckle down because we've got a generation now that doesn't work," said David Still, 54, a married, white father of two who works as an electrician in Sumter, S.C.
Studies have speculated that the rise in optimism among blacks is due to the election of President Barack Obama despite the history of oppression and strife in America. Perhaps a generation where more students have seen traditional pathways to economic success feel they are more inclined to create their own road to accomplish their goals.
"A lot of stuff in the news is telling everyone that they can't, that the economy is crumbling and there's no room for anyone to do anything," said 23-year-old Lucas Ward. "But I'm watching that being disproven every day.