What millennials have in common with their great-grandparents
Jorgensen is not alone. Reuters reported in 2012 that of all industrialized nations, the United States has the highest rate of college dropouts. "Many students approach the dropout decision as a simple cost-benefit analysis," Lou Carlozo wrote for Reuters. "They ask themselves whether leaving will put them financially ahead of where they'll be after amassing four years of student loan debt in a lukewarm job market."
As Marketwatch recently reported, an increasing number of students have loan debt in the six-figure range, and "more than one in 10 student loan balances are more than 90 days delinquent." Such statistics can be crippling to the ambitions of even the brightest students.
But unlike most of her fellow students who put a pause on their schooling, Jorgensen decided that getting a degree was still worth it, as long as it was the right degree.
As time passed, Jorgensen got married, had a child and began a new chapter in her young-adult life. She returned to school at Dixie State where she caught word of a new program at Utah Valley University that would focus on personal and family finance. “I really enjoyed that client relationship from hair styling, but I wanted to do something applicable to daily life,” she said, and personal financial planning seemed right up her alley.
Having lived through the fear of financial instability, studying finance has helped Jorgensen to not "react out of fear," as her professor, Sybrowsky, would say. "There is this belief that ‘you need to be afraid and be passionate with fire in your belly or you’re not going to make it in the world," she said. But she prefers a more hopeful approach.
Jorgensen's optimism touches on a key finding in Pew Forum's recent study on trends among her generation. Despite being considerably worse off financially in relation to both their parents and their grandparents (hence the resurgence of a more restrained view toward investing), the Pew study found that millennials are nevertheless "extremely confident about their financial future."
"I think the recession prompted me to be far more forward thinking and far more focused than I would have been," Jorgensen said. "It made me put a lot more time and thought into what I wanted to do and what would be realistic.”
"I think we should look at this as a very positive trend," Sybrowsky concluded about the UBS study. "I would much rather have a generation that will say ‘I will fight for my own financial freedom and not just be taken care of.' I hope that this is evidence of that shift."