Last week one of my friends made a social media post to a piece in Psychology Today entitled Declining Student Resilience. The author's basic thesis is that the newly-rising crop of college kids are less emotionally and/or academically ready to handle the challenges that face them as young independent students. The article has reasonable sourcing, mixing anecdotes from professors and administrators with some serious-ish academic studies on the current university climate, but as I was reading the piece, something itched at the back of my mind. I felt like I had, perhaps, read a very similar article before.
Perhaps it was this piece from the New York Times in May 2014, The Streamlined Life?
Or was it Slate in Dec 2013, Why Millenials Can't Grow Up?
I suppose it could have been an older Times piece from Nov 2012, Digital Natives And Their Customs.
And the Washington Post explored similar themes in May 2011, College Freshmen Less Prepared Nowadays
This article could have been written in October 2010 Students are Different Now
Or Feb 2009, Student Expectation Seen as Causing Grade Disputes
Or August 2007, On Campus, Trying to Connect
Or March 2006, Not Ready for College
Or December 2005, Literacy of College Graduates is on Decline
Or May 2004, Students Offering More Excuses on Late Papers
Or January 2003, College Freshmen Experts at Getting A's
Or November 2002, With Student Cheating on the Rise...
Or December 2001, College Freshmen Lack Basic Skills
Or March 2000, College Students Binge More Frequently
Or September 1999, Some Maryland Freshmen Unprepared, Survey Finds
Or September 1998, College Freshmen Aiming for High Marks in Income
Or August 1997, The Inevitable Call From College Freshmen: Send Money
Or January 1996, College Freshmen Today are Less Interested in Learning
Or April 1995, Many College Freshmen Get Drunk During First Week
Or October 1994, Anxiety 101
So, well, literally every year for the past 20 years. Further back than that gets harder for the internet to remember, but anyone with a LexisNexis subscription should feel free to supplement with examples earlier than 1994.
If you're a college freshman reading one of these pieces about how your generation is dumber and whinier and weaker and drunker than the generation before, try not to take it to heart. Growing into adulthood is full of challenges, but the fact that you've made it this far shows that you've got a lot of talent and determiniation. Build on that, try to wring every drop of experience out of your college years and remain skpetical about the institutions around you. Whether or not you succeed or fail has nothing to do with what some dingbat professor thinks about The Kids These Days.
And if you're a professor, psychologist, columnist, or beat writer and happen to come across this post, please stop writing the same tired bullshit every year. You can do better. And while you're at it, quit with the "Freshman 15" articles as well, those are about as predictable every Autumn as the leaves starting to change color and fall to the earth. I don't know how "Humans Near Adulthood Experience Changes In Body" became a legitimate piece of "news", but I think after 20 years of discussion we're ready to retire that cultural conversation for a bit.