Economy, Jobs Top Students’ Concerns Before Obama Town Hall

Young voters in D.C. share what they'd ask during Thursday's 'A Conversation With President Obama.'

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Everyone is stressed about the economy. With unemployment still hovering near double-digits and the class of 2011 facing one of the toughest job markets in years, MTV News hit the streets of the nation’s capital on Tuesday and spoke to students at Georgetown University about how they’ve been impacted by the so-called Great Recession.

They told us what they would ask the president, just as other young voters will do during “A Conversation With President Obama,” Thursday’s one-hour town hall event airing live and commercial-free on MTV, mtvU, BET, Centric, Tr3s and CMT at 4 p.m. ET and stream live on MTV.com, BET.com and CMT.com.

“Everyone’s attitude about money has changed,” said Georgia Shibley, 19, who said she’s considering going to graduate school rather than trying to wade into the tight job market. It was a sentiment echoed by a number of her fellow students at the private Jesuit university.

Her friend, international student Sita Chantramonklasri, 18, had a similar idea but was more optimistic about her prospects for finding a gig after she graduates. “If I work hard enough in school and go to a good graduate school … eventually, it will pay off and I’ll be able to find a job,” she said, admitting that as a college student, she feels a bit sheltered from the harshest aspects of the downturn.

Like everyone, though, she’s read and seen plenty of reports about the dire nature of the economy. Chantramonklasri said it doesn’t feel like things are harder now than they were in the past. “People would always have to struggle to get a job earlier. … The same principles apply: If you work hard and put yourself out there, eventually you’ll find a job.”

As young people face student loan payments and search for jobs, the economy is sure to be one of the prime topics the president will face when he takes the stage in front of 250 students on Thursday. Due in part to the unemployment rate, the country has seen a rise in community college applications and an increase in students opting for a “gap year” before attending university.

Mikholae Hutchinson, a naturalized citizen who emigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica and joined the military in order to afford school, said the money crunch had forced students to make hard choices. “I went with the military to afford certain things because I myself couldn’t afford it,” said Hutchinson, 22. “I’m completely dependant on the system. For other people not as bold as I am and have to [pay for school] out of pocket … the pressing issues are: I go to school and I work, and let’s say I can’t make it to class one day or a couple of days and I drop a letter grade. How am I going to be taken care of if I come to you and say I need help? … You have to make hard choices for yourself and have to do without a lot … and so much is asked from you in return.”

If the economy and job creation are your top concerns, you too can ask the president about his plans to remedy the situation. He will be taking questions from Twitter, as well as the live audience, during Thursday’s conversation. From now through the live show, tweet your questions with the hashtag #askjobs or #askeconomy (or another topic that’s important to you). Starting on Wednesday (October 13), you can also visit the Twitter Tracker to submit your question and see which #ask topics are trending with other users.

We’re not just looking for your questions, though, we’re also interested in how you’re feeling about the country, the world and your own lives. We want to hear from you about your greatest hopes and fears, so tweet your answer to those questions to #mygreatesthope and #mygreatestfear, and your thoughts might get read during the live broadcast.

What do you want to ask President Obama? Share your questions in the comments before asking the president himself on Thursday!

“A Conversation With President Obama,” a production of MTV News and BET News, will be hosted by MTV News’ Sway Calloway, BET’s April Woodard and CMT’s Katie Cook. The show will air live at 4 p.m. ET/ 3 p.m. CT (and tape-delayed at 4 p.m. PT) on MTV, BET, CMT, mtvU, Centric and Tr3s. The show will also stream on MTV.com, BET.com, CMT.com and Tr3s.com and will be made available on-demand 30 days after its initial airing.

Often guilty, never convicted. Serving 15 years to life at MTV News.