College students today: overconfident or just assured? Regardless, they are our future.
Those graduating from college soon will be in charge of our institutions. We should give these Millennials every support we can, despite their sense of entitlement.
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To be sure, in their minds these new students are not overconfident, but assured; not demanding, but assertive; not impatient, impulsive, or materialistic, but driven, fast-paced, and goal-directed. And in fairness, they do have a lot of those positive qualities.Skip to next paragraph
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They’re probably more open and honest than students before them. They value authenticity. They’re not afraid to voice their opinions, even if sometimes those opinions are uninformed. Few subjects are taboo with them, and they don’t have much tolerance for political or social correctness.
They like (indeed crave) personal recognition, but they’re group-oriented and prefer working in teams. They like shared leadership, and they’re skeptical of formal authority. Many are strongly oriented towards volunteerism (albeit on a short-term, project-by-project basis), and give time to community service.
Their most unique feature may be their sense of equality. Discrimination isn’t dead on college campuses; there are still cases of intolerance, but today’s students may be the first generation to widely embrace the ideal that issues such as race, religion, or gender do not, by themselves, make a difference in people.
Finally, they’re optimistic, which isn’t easy given the increasing violence on campus and in the outside world they face. Students graduating today will enter the worst job market in 25 years. They’ll work longer, have less job security, and have fewer benefits than their parents or grandparents had. They’ll face a society that’s increasingly polarized, with few shared values, less sense of community, and hardly any authority figures that can be absolutely trusted.
Yet overcoming all, most students remain upbeat. They expect to find a job within a few months of graduation and live a happy, productive life. They see the future as theirs to control. They believe they’re vital to the nation.
So what’s the message for the rest of us?
It can be annoying to hear this new Millennial generation brag about their power and potential, especially when it comes at the expense of the older generations. But the truth is that our future is tied to theirs.
Many are already graduating from college and working in our companies. They’ll soon be in charge of our government, business, professional, and social institutions. We should give them every support we can. Heaven knows, we don’t want them to fail. Understanding how they work is the first step.
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