Young people remain optimistic about higher education, AP/Viacom survey says

On April 21, Viacom and The Associated Press will release the results of a study entitled "Young Adults Perspectives on American Education 2011," conducted by Viacom and the AP in cooperation with Stanford University and the research firms Brand Amplitude and GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications.

The Associated Press is publishing a series of articles this week looking at the results of the study, which was based on a combination of peer-to-peer interviews and a poll of more than 1,100 U.S. 18- to 24-year-olds. The AP's articles will examine the impact of the economic downturn on young adults' attitudes towards education, students' assessments of their educational experiences, how college students pay the bills and make college work for them, and the challenges faced by young people who enter the workforce directly after high school.

The study found that the vast majority of young adults are optimistic about the future, with 90 percent saying they're confident they will find a career that will bring them happiness, and 87 percent saying they're generally happy with their lives. Still, financial concerns are a significant issue, with 75 percent of respondents describing the current state of the nation's economy as "poor."

Nineteen percent of African-Americans say money was the "single most important factor" in deciding where to go to college--that's twice the level of whites or Hispanics. And 65 percent of young Americans worry about having enough money to make it through the week, including 69 percent of African-American youth and 71 percent of Hispanic youth. Seventy percent worry about their parents' financial situation, and 19 percent saw a parent lose a job during this school year.

"The importance of education to our viewers led Viacom to launch Get Schooled, an effort aimed at connecting young adults with the educational information and inspiration they need to succeed," says Colleen Fahey Rush, Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer at MTV Networks. "This study sheds new light on young people's expectations of the role advanced education plays in preparing them for careers and the future, and the challenges they face in attaining it. Most importantly, it uncovers new ideas for making education relevant today, directly from those who are most affected by it."