Editor's note: Sandi Halimuddin, a University of Washington student, is contributing to our opinion blog.

Editor’s note: Sandi Halimuddin, a University of Washington student, is contributing to our opinion blog.

University diplomas used to be a symbol of insurance — a hopeful reassurance that upon entering the job market a single piece of paper could vouch for my achievements, validate my existence and hopefully qualify me for real-world opportunities.

My naivete and sense of entitlement has faded with mounting student debt, anxiety about the looming fiscal crisis and the bleak portrait of recent U.S. unemployment rates, particularly among young people.

A recent report released by Generation Opportunity, a national, nonpartisan organization revealed the national unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds in November was 10.9 percent, compared to the overall unemployment rate of 7.7 percent, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor.

And if the 1.7 million young adults who have stopped looking for jobs were taken into account, unemployment rates would be 16.4 percent, said David Pasch, communications director of Generation Opportunity, which aims to empower young people with information to politically advocate for themselves.

“This is the highest sustained unemployment [for young people] since World War II,” said Pasch. “There are grave implications that reverberate past the financial crisis.”