As owner and primary consultant of College Driven LLC for over 18 years, I've witnessed changes with each generation of students. I began my career with the Millenial Generation and have progressed into working with Generation Z. If there's a surefire way to see either generation's impact on society, you need to look no further than today's college campus.
Today's typical student is tech-savvy, has confidence spewing from every acne-free pore, and life's amenities have been kind and expected. The latest gadgets are at their disposal, the dermatologist has been visited more frequently than the math tutor, and the lifestyles of many kids have been at a level many of us adults still hope to achieve one day (like not sharing a bathroom with the rest of the family). So, to lure these kids to college campuses across the country, it comes as no surprise that millions of dollars are invested in transforming dorms into residential halls with private bathrooms (why should college be any different than home, after all). To attract today's best students, colleges are building facilities more aligned to resorts found in the Caribbean than the college campuses we remember. Can you believe there are at least 3 campuses (very well-known) that boast a lazy river?! Don't even get me started talking about the concierge services at some colleges. And we question the rise of tuition costs!?!?!?
Perhaps all of these luxuries are required to ease the mind and relieve the stressors of today's college students' experiences. The demands must be far greater than when we went to college, right? At least the competitiveness is at a level we Generation Xers have not seen when we were in college. Unfortunately, as tuition costs rise, the quality of a college education has actually decreased because the power has been taken away from the professors and placed into the customers' hands, a.k.a. the students. Many of these kids have grown up expecting that even the slightest effort on a baseball team, on a soccer field, or just showing up merits a trophy or medal. So, why should this be questioned in college? Everyone deserves an "A" if they show up to class and do all the assignments. But, if you didn't actually "learn" anything, is an "A" warranted? As a professor, you're doomed if you do and doomed if you don't. If, as a professor, you're not making the class fun and giving out a good number of A's, your future is dimmed by websites like RateMyProfessors.com, where students fill out surveys on their professors as if they're filling out a customer service survey at a local department store. Get too many negative remarks, tenured or not, the professor is asked to hit the road. Bad for business, you know. Back in 2013, the Boston Globe reported a whopping 91 percent of Harvard graduates that year received honors. Yes, everyone received a trophy for showing up.
I want to know what happened with respecting the struggle? What happened with going away to college to learn the ropes, the survival of life? I'm not kidding when I say there are now options for maid service and laundry service available on campus for a pretty reasonable fee. Is the college experience even genuine if you never rummage through couches for quarters for the washer or turn your underwear pink?
Since The Millennial Generation, students have become softer because they've figured out how to work smarter, not harder. But will they be able to face adversity? Will they even be aware of their own failures? Or even worse, will they even care. Does their naivety make them better off? Ignorance is bliss, after all.
I hope the old adage of "hard work pays off" still exists in the future generation. But, to be honest, I'm not so sure. My old-fashioned theories may be, well, old-fashioned. But, it's the only thing I know how to teach. Don't be afraid of the struggle. It may be the only way to become a contributor to the world. Celebrate the struggles to appreciate the true glories.