Millennials: the age of entitlement

While Vieno Vehko empathises with millennials’ burden of tuition debt, she also finds it hard to respect a group that neither reads critically nor takes responsibility for its learning

July 19, 2018
Illustration of a professor sitting with a student
Source: Daniel Mitchell

I’m so lost! Your course is so confusing. Like, I really have no idea what to do and, like, I’m ready to simply cry and, like, drop this crazy course.”

Susie, a major in education, blinked, but no tears came; she just kept glaring at me with her elaborately made-up brown eyes. She had texted me the previous day about how stressed she was about my course, and I had invited her to come to my office at her leisure. But this wasn’t a great start to our heart-to-heart.

Of course, I felt terrible; tears even came to my eyes. “Susie,” I said, “you are a wonderful student. You’re bright and ambitious and doing the work; what can I do to help you?”

“Well, I can’t do the work,” she responded. “This lesson plan format is stupid, and the lexical assignment doesn’t make sense; I don’t know what you mean when you say ‘analyse a lexical item’. What does lexical mean, anyway?”

My first thought was to ask her if she had any idea how to use a dictionary, but I restrained myself from showing anything but compassion.

“Susie,” I said, “lexical means word, or vocabulary. Did you read the directions?”

She hedged. “Everything is so confusing, what exactly do you want me to do? I don’t know what analyse a grammatical item means, or, like, what is a function word…Like, this is all too hard, and the lesson plan, it’s insane: like, really disorganised.”

I took a deep breath and walked Susie through both assignments, apologising for her confusion. At the end of the meeting I promised that I’d look at the instructions again. “Send me an email with what you think will make it easier to comprehend,” I said.

She nodded, but I knew I’d get no email. Susie was taking my online course but she never came to the optional face-to-face study sessions that I had organised – at the cost of a lot of extra work for me – because I wanted everyone to succeed. She told me she didn’t have the time or the inclination to show up.

Like so many of my students, Susie takes 18-21 credit hours per semester because it costs the same as taking 12-21 hours. She hopes to graduate with the least possible debt. But students that take this approach often end up cramming too much coursework into a schedule that also includes doing up to 40 hours of paid work a week – not to mention the millennial’s obligatory three hours a day of Netflix and a similar number for social media and going out with friends. Overloaded and stressed, these students cannot focus on their academic tasks.

Nor do they see the point of doing so. American millennials do not view college as a place to learn; rather, they see it as a place to get a kind of “I’m certified and intelligent” tattoo that entitles them to start their professional pursuit of the American Dream – and start paying off the $140,000 of debt that I’ve known some MA and PhD students to get into.

But if millennial students feel cheated when they are asked to knuckle down in the library, I feel cheated by having to ask them. I spent a decade of my late life preparing for a job that I thought would involve training people to think. Yet I soon realised that this is not what is expected of me at all. The modern American academic’s unspoken job description is to keep students on their courses and to make sure they graduate – whether they learn anything or not. The modern university is a factory, not a greenhouse.

This fact is underlined at every faculty meeting of my Midwestern public research university. Our dean booms: “Enrolment is down 20 per cent, folks; if you want our college to survive, make sure you join the voluntary Saturday recruitment drives!” A committee I attend just decided to lower the required high-school GPA for admission again, and to offer students the option of video interviews instead of face-to-face.

This suits the academics, too. Many tenured professors are unwilling to give their time to chaperone visiting students around the college and we can’t ask the far more numerous adjuncts to do so because while their precarious employment conditions make them less likely to complain, the fact that they are paid by the course gives them no incentive to sit on committees or participate in recruitment drives.

That leaves non-tenure track staff like me to both pull the cart and shovel out the stalls.

Students suffer in this system, too. Take Louis, a handsome young black man in his mid-twenties, who comes to class wearing a black bandanna and leather jacket. He has such a sweet aura and regularly reiterates, in his soft voice, that he wants to be a teacher and work in inner-city schools: his neighbourhood. He listens when I talk, and thinks before he responds. But he is near to failing my course because he doesn’t do the work. Why? He has a small moving company and drives all over the state, hauling furniture and moving folks. He works whenever he gets a gig; he has to eat and pay tuition. He’s so busy this semester that he doesn’t have time to show up for anything, much less office hours.

Then there is Yusef. My colleagues like him because he is jovial, brings them small gifts and shows up for most of their classes. Yusef is a Saudi man in his early thirties, with a wife and kids here in town. And he is ambitious. The work he sends me in video format is definitely his, but the text assignments he submits are sophisticated and error-free, and are definitely not his.

We all know that our college needs international students because they pay far more money than residents. No university wants any international student to leave since incoming enrolment from outside the US has drastically dropped owing to visa regulations and the ambience created by our current president. Yusef shows up for 10 minutes here and there, with a smile and a gift, and then takes off. In his culture, charm and small chunks of work are enough to gain a degree.

Then there is Stephen, a working literacy coach, always well-dressed, but puffed up with pride because he already has a good job and a wife who earns great money. Stephen was initially someone I looked forward to teaching; he was respectful, did the work and offered great questions. But when the time came for me to comment on his research paper draft, he went ballistic. He accused me of not knowing how to edit, of personally attacking his paper, and of singling him out because, as a professional, he made me feel threatened. His ire almost bowled me over when he came in for office hours.

I kept my cool and just asked him a series of questions. His answers led me to understand that no one had ever told Stephen that he was anything but a gifted, superior student. And why not – he was literate, upper middle class, white, male and studious. All through school he had behaved and listened and done whatever his teachers asked of him. Even in college, his instructors had not challenged him to move beyond his current levels of competency – because mediocre was safe and good enough. In my enthusiasm, my mistake had been to ask him to carefully revise and organise a paper so that its structure met my own academic standards.

A student driving a removals van

There has been a lot of millennial-bashing in the news recently. There is also a lot in private, among faculty; my colleagues all report similar experiences to mine.

Some retort that my generation should get off its high horse and work harder to understand how much more difficult young people have it these days. And I’ve tried to portray some empathy and understanding. I know millennials’ dilemma with tuition debt; I feel their pain. But it remains truly difficult for me to respect them as students, as potential scholars and as thinkers.

Another reason for this is Linda. A woman in her late fifties, Linda is what we call a late-life student. And she is phenomenal. She can read and follow directions. She has no trouble with anything, whether it be face-to-face interaction or online coursework. She likes the course design and workload. She even thanks me for every critique, and wants to discuss her work further. The ease with which she negotiates every assignment and required revision seems almost too good to be true given that she has never taken an online course before, lacks any prior training in linguistics and is a busy working mother and grandmother. I wonder if we share a kind of generationally kindred brain, and her performance makes me wonder even more why the millennials make such heavy weather of studying. They are used to online work; they are more tech-savvy than either Linda or myself is, and yet they are angry, frustrated and confused with my course and with me.

Tentatively, my conclusions focus on the millennial persona. To return to Susie, the blamer, complainer and shamer, she is training to be a teacher, yet she doesn’t seem able to take responsibility for her own learning. She feels entitled, and she sees me as a service person: an academic clerk of sorts. Yes, I’m long in the tooth, but in my day I would never have dreamed of requesting an office hour and blaming a professor because I did not understand terminology.

It was clear that Susie had not read the syllabus, or the assignment instructions; if anything, she had skimmed a few things in the module and then got frustrated and angry. But her emotional upset, in her mind, was valid, and, to relieve her anxiety and reassure herself, she shifted the burden of her inadequacy on to my tired shoulders. She used the magic words I’m thinking of dropping your course because she knew that every modern academic lives in fear of them.

To be honest, I shouldn’t have accepted that burden. But I did – not merely out of fear of a slap on the wrists from my superiors but also because I don’t like emotional outbursts; I hoped that, becalmed, Susie would go away and do some work – or at least just go away. Nor do I enjoy being thought of as a bad teacher. Most importantly, I don’t like to give up on young people – especially those who are planning to be the future teachers. But it is terribly disheartening to meet the Susies of this world.

As for Louis, I’m at a loss. His attempt to juggle 40-plus hours of paid work with a full academic load is insanity in my eyes. I can accept his late submissions in the hope that he may ultimately turn in something that passes muster, but I can’t help him balance his life, and I sense that he is playing me as a soft touch. Still, his case makes me sad: he is the one who suffers for his choices in the end, after all.

I’ve suggested that he apply for a Fulbright English teaching assistantship, so he can go abroad and see how others live. At least it would broaden his horizons. However, such awards require a clear demonstration of competence in expressing ideas in print. I’m not sure Louis will be able to rise to that challenge – especially after a long day of driving.

I know about that requirement because I, too, recently applied for a Fulbright award. I spent a lot of time teaching abroad in my previous career, and I just can’t get used to US students’ attitude. Stephen, in case you’re wondering, got his A. His pride was restored. But my interactions with him only deepened my sense that his is a generation that I just can’t teach.

Millennials don’t read. They don’t think as critically as they could. And they’re not interested in learning for learning’s sake. They want the Dream. They will go into debt to get that degree they believe will help them pursue it, but they have lost respect for knowledge, rigour and hard intellectual work. Working among such entitled puppies makes me feel like an academic platypus out of water. 

Vieno Vehko is a pseudonymous assistant professor at a Midwestern university.

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POSTSCRIPT:

Print headline: The age of entitlement

Reader's comments (25)

With all due respect to the author of this piece, the majority of millennials as defined by the Pew Research Center are between the ages of 22 and 37. If you are teaching these individuals at undergraduate level, they would, for the most part, be non-traditional students who have taken time out from education for work or personal circumstances. Non-traditional students thus will have very different requirements and expectations from education than an 18 year old fresh from high school. As a millennial and an academic, I find these sorts of articles damaging as they uncritically paint my generation with a negative brush. What were you and your colleagues saying about your straight from high school students who graduated in 2002, 2006, or 2010? I'm a millennial, and I'm sure so are some of your colleagues. These types of articles are not just damaging to your students, but also to other millennial academics, who do read, think critically, and are obviously invested in learning. This inter-generational bashing does nothing more than add to the schism between the generations and foster incorrect assumptions regarding an individual's capabilities.
What a strange article. Why is the physical appearance of the students focused on so much? What point is the author trying to make by talking about the first student's 'elaborately made-up eyes'? Does wearing make-up mean this student shouldn't be taken seriously? What amount of make-up does this academic feel is suitable? There are other weird details, which implies the author has some weird obsession with appearance (some unconcious bias training might be a good idea). I do agree with some of this article. I do find that students do tend not to take it upon themselves to delve into the library and do their own research. They do tend to sit back and want to be fed information. However, this is not necessarily the individual student's fault- it's sadly a sign of the times. There are clearly massive differences in the way people access information now. No more Encyclopedia Britannica- all they need is Google to do their homework/coursework. Perhaps we need to look at the secondary school system and try and prepare these students for university better- and to appreciate better what background in learning and researching they have. With these things in mind, we can then think about how to get the best out of these students. Has the author thought about perhaps giving the lesson plan verbally in her first lecture? Perhaps she could also think about delivering some direction for key skills, such as critical thinking, performing literature reviews, etc. On a final note, I am amazed that someone would write so much identifiable details about their students. Wholly inappropriate and am amazed that THE would publish it like this. This anonymous article could clearly be traced back to the author, who boasts how she has applied to go to Estonia on a Fulbright, and I feel sorry for her students when they see what she has written about them for the world to see.
I'm glad someone else has raised the point of that millennials are not the current cohort of traditional straight-from-high-school undergraduates, which this article seems to think they are. I expected opinion in this article, but I also expected some kind of evidence to support that opinion. Instead, all I could see were lazy generalisations based on some anecdotes that may or may not be true. The comparison between the 50-something student and the millennial students is weak since it does not even attempt to account for the myriad of other factors at play in such a comparison. Clearly, if students are from other cultures, and are working significant hours outside of their course, then these are going to be important influences on their academic performance - that has nothing to do with age or a hypothetical 'generationally kindred brain'. I'm not really sure what this article is trying to achieve except, perhaps, click-bait.
Quite a few years ago I had a print subscription. I Recently registered with Times Higher - reading this I am not sure why I bothered. THE doesn't feel like it used to :-(
The only thing about this article I agree with is that, yes, more students now are working full-time while also pursuing a full-time courseload, and those students understandably struggle to succeed. Of course there are also individual students who refuse to do work or bristle at anything they perceive as criticism, but that is not new and is not a majority of students, millenial or otherwise. What I'm reading between the lines is that this (newish) professor is too lazy, condescending and proud to consider that her assignments could be more engaging, and her expectations better explained, and that her students need more guided practice before being thrown into the deep end with assignments. "Analyse a lexical item" is pretty vague even if you know what all those words mean. What form should that analysis take? What kinds of questions should inform that analysis? Susie might be rude, but she may also have a point. The author reminds me of a colleague who writes 20-page syllabi (filled with hostile language that assumes the worst of students) and 4-page instruction sheets for assignments. They are badly written and hard for even me--a fellow Ph.D.--to follow. I have a strong sense that this author has the same problem, but can't or won't own up to her own shortcomings. Perhaps she should talk to colleagues who are having more success with students to get ideas instead of blaming her teaching failures on a whole generation.
“What I'm reading between the lines is that this (newish) professor is too lazy, condescending and proud to consider that her assignments could be more engaging, and her expectations better explained, and that her students need more guided practice before being thrown into the deep end with assignments. ” But this is college and these students are supposedly adults. It is up to them to fail or succeed. Once a student reaches college, they should not have to be taken by the hand and led through the assignments. College coursework is difficult. High school is supposed to prepare students for these sorts of tasks. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. High school are sh** shows full of drama, politics, indoctrination, and policing. They are not institutions of learning. It is also up the parents to prepare their children for college. Also unfortunate that parents in this country don’t take education seriously and t’a more important that their children fit in and have a social life, than concentrate on their education. By you can’t teach your children something that you yourself are incapable of. Seriously, if one does not know what a word means, what is the excuse for simply not looking it up? Too much work? Susie has no valid point and no excuse. Again, this is college and if she can’t do the work, not accept extra help when offered, and has that hard a time figuring things out and doing extra work on her own to at least make an attempt to understand, she has no own to blame but herself. Maybe college isn’t a good fit for her. This professor is not a failure at teaching. It is true that millenials expect everything to be explained and walked through and taken by the hand. This professor says enough is enough. He has a very valid argument. Not every professor is going to cater to it. Some still have the notion of academic challenge and academic accountability. I agree with what the professor said and it is high time we stop making excuses for student incompetence and shortcomings. It is up to Susie to be adult enough to be accountable for her own work. That means asking the appropriate questions to understand the assignments. That means accepting help when offered and not whining about it and expecting sympathy. College is a time for independence. The coddling days are done. Adults need to take responsibility for themselves. Professors are not babysitters. It is not up to them to see that an assignment is completed. If a student chooses to do otherwise, it is entirely on them. I believe a syllabus provides resources and information as to where to seek help for a class, if needed. Simply put, if the coursework is unmanageable, then college is not the place for you. Many students go in completely unprepared and having no clue as to the expectations. This is not entirely their fault. It is because we devalue education. It just is not an important part of a child’s life. That is unfortunate. You end up with students like Susie who are actually held accountable for her work when the sh** hits the fan. A professor holding students accountable and does not believe in babying them is not wrong, nor incapable. It’s a professor who believes in personal responsibility and sees no reason why a student does nothing to help herself, yet expects to be coddled.
“What I'm reading between the lines is that this (newish) professor is too lazy, condescending and proud to consider that her assignments could be more engaging, and her expectations better explained, and that her students need more guided practice before being thrown into the deep end with assignments. ” But this is college and these students are supposedly adults. It is up to them to fail or succeed. Once a student reaches college, they should not have to be taken by the hand and led through the assignments. College coursework is difficult. High school is supposed to prepare students for these sorts of tasks. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. High school are sh** shows full of drama, politics, indoctrination, and policing. They are not institutions of learning. It is also up the parents to prepare their children for college. Also unfortunate that parents in this country don’t take education seriously and t’a more important that their children fit in and have a social life, than concentrate on their education. By you can’t teach your children something that you yourself are incapable of. Seriously, if one does not know what a word means, what is the excuse for simply not looking it up? Too much work? Susie has no valid point and no excuse. Again, this is college and if she can’t do the work, not accept extra help when offered, and has that hard a time figuring things out and doing extra work on her own to at least make an attempt to understand, she has no own to blame but herself. Maybe college isn’t a good fit for her. This professor is not a failure at teaching. It is true that millenials expect everything to be explained and walked through and taken by the hand. This professor says enough is enough. He has a very valid argument. Not every professor is going to cater to it. Some still have the notion of academic challenge and academic accountability. I agree with what the professor said and it is high time we stop making excuses for student incompetence and shortcomings. It is up to Susie to be adult enough to be accountable for her own work. That means asking the appropriate questions to understand the assignments. That means accepting help when offered and not whining about it and expecting sympathy. College is a time for independence. The coddling days are done. Adults need to take responsibility for themselves. Professors are not babysitters. It is not up to them to see that an assignment is completed. If a student chooses to do otherwise, it is entirely on them. I believe a syllabus provides resources and information as to where to seek help for a class, if needed. Simply put, if the coursework is unmanageable, then college is not the place for you. Many students go in completely unprepared and having no clue as to the expectations. This is not entirely their fault. It is because we devalue education. It just is not an important part of a child’s life. That is unfortunate. You end up with students like Susie who are actually held accountable for her work when the sh** hits the fan. A professor holding students accountable and does not believe in babying them is not wrong, nor incapable. It’s a professor who believes in personal responsibility and sees no reason why a student does nothing to help herself, yet expects to be coddled.
In every negative piece I read about young adults, the finger of blame seems to be pointed solely at them, conveniently ignoring the fact that their parents raised them, the schools prepared them for college (or not, as is implied) and college professionals like this one, seem to despise them. In my experience as the mother of a graduate and current college student, it's not just us parents who mollycoddle the kids. Colleges treat them like babies too - I am barraged with e-mails from one college, asking me to REMIND my offspring of upcoming deadlines. Orientation now caters to visiting parents and siblings, there's parents' weekends, and on and on. Colleges do nothing to help these kids mature, it would seem. The blame, if there is blame, lies with everyone.
I hope Vieno Vehko has a few months for reflection during her Fulbright Fellowship. During time away, she might become less irritated by the dress and behaviours of some of her students. On the one hand she appears to understand the constraints that debt and significant hours of paid work place on students; on the other hand she condemns the kind of anxious student constructed by the underfunded, marketised university. Students arrive at university with their expectations of education already formed by their experience at school. Here they are told that progress is made rather in the way of operant conditioning - by modifications to work in response to feedback. The idea of exercising independent academic judgement seems to pose a severe risk in what students find to be a high stakes situation. It is hardly surprising that they seem tutor-dependent. But usually in the final year of their course, they come to you with an idea and a project design which they have originated, and you smile as you witness the development of another autonomous learner. I too have occasionally vented frustration at students whose sense of panic seems to occlude productive engagement with scholarship. However, I would have hoped that a professor of linguistics might have had greater appreciation of the different generational norms and signifiers. It is your job to meet students where they are, not where you are. You need to have the sympathy and insight to translate expressions of ‘stress’ and ‘confusion’ as a request for further clarification and reassurance. And frankly, even as a former linguistics lecturer myself, I would struggle with an instruction to ‘analyse a lexical item’. Lexical items have a social, historical and linguistic context. Is this what she means? So how should the student approach this? If I am ‘confused’ about this vague task, imagine how the student feels. As a lecturer, with luck, your career might extend over several decades. You can’t expect to encounter just those students who share your demographic characteristics and your experience. I will always be grateful for the older colleague who took me aside early in my career and told me, “these students need education”. That enabled me to shift perspective and remember I was there to support the needs of students, not to focus on my own.
Times Higher seems to have a gripe against millenials - see https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/selfie-generation-grades-boosted-if-lecturers-are-narcissists " where narcissists flourish in an environment where “assertiveness, talkativeness, creativity, and overt confidence are encouraged and rewarded”. (Liz Morrish aka Divaswimmer)
This article was a complete waste of printed space (3 sides), not to mention a webpage. Perhaps your pseudonymous author should consider revising their language framework before they disseminate it and then complain when their students don't understand. Maybe they should ask a peer to sense-check it? But then, alas, they would rapidly find out that their peers are actually *gasp* millennials. I hate to break it to your author but millennials actually work at universities now. We aren't your students. Find a new label to complain at.
I'd love to know what generation this writer thinks they belong to. A large proportion of "Millennials" are fast approaching 40, having been born in 1980, not fresh out of college. That would be Generation Z my dear (who, incidentally, have already garnered a less than positive reputation as a generation, for filming themselves trying to eat laundry pods" - just Google it, it has it's own Wikipedia Page) To tar an entire cohort with the same brush is flagrantly ignorant, and offensive to your peers in that arbitrary category, who have worked a lot harder and paid a lot more than you to get where they are . And frankly, as a millennial linguistics graduate myself (I graduated a DECADE ago), if I was faced with the question ‘analyse a lexical item’ I have no idea where I would start. That is such a fabulously vague question. Syntactically? Semantically? Semiotically? And maybe, if your students don't know what "lexical" means, you should have a look at yourself as a teacher... Did you check if Susie might have diagnosed or undiagnised dyspraxia, dyslexia or autism or anything else that might hinder her ability to understand your words? We aren't all the same, as a teacher teaching teachers you should know that. Can I just suggest the author checks their own privilege for a second? I expect they got their degree without debt, without having to work that 40 hour week along side their study to pay their fees, feed themselves and pay for exorbitantly priced books that are essential reading but that aren't stocked in the library their fees are meant to pay for, and therefore this writer would have had all the time in the world to "knuckle down in the library". The modern university is a factory not a greenhouse, as you say, but whose fault actually is that? Not the students. Stop blaming them for the state of affairs (and educate yourself on generational demographics). THE, I am ashamed of you for even giving this air time.
“Did you check if Susie might have diagnosed or undiagnised dyspraxia, dyslexia or autism or anything else that might hinder her ability to understand your words?” See, this is precisely part of the problem with the younger generation. Not every issue someone has is some disorder. We need to stop saying people have this disorder or that disorder as an excuse to not have to apply yourself. Susie doesn’t understand the assignment because she is ignorant. She refuses help. If Susie doesn’t understand what a word means, then she is capable of looking it up. The problem is, Susie doesn’t want to look it up. She just wants to be handed an answer without putting forth any effort of her own. Susie is stupid and does not belong in college if she can’t handle the work. Sorry, but true. Let’s stop labeling people as having a disorder when the problem lies within themselves. A “disorder” is a convenient, “please feel sorry for me and make an exception.” I am not denying the disorders exist. I am simply saying that Susie, and many thousands of students just like her are plain lazy. They don’t know how to do academic work. This is because they never had to think about the rigor. Their whininess and excuses got them by all through school and we’re even sympathized with by teachers. Now they are being held accountable and have to face the fire. They are not used to that. Why can’t this be a fact? She was offered opportunities for extra help. She refused. I believe that is her own fault. Then she expects to have sympathy. Sorry, doesn’t work that way. College is an inappropriate place to “assess whether someone has a disorder.” What, are they going to give her an IEP in college? Wrong! College students are independent. They should not have their “needs” assessed. It’s not a college’s job to do that. By the time a student reaches college, “needs assessment” shouldn’t happen. Those are the kinds of things that are not the professors problem. This isn’t grade school. Yes, of course a professor can provide reasonable accommodation. But considering whether a student has a disorder is not part of their job. A college student is an adult and it is up to them to take the initiative to either work through a “disorder” or get a proper diagnosis.
This is ridiculous. The author complains that millennials can't think critically, but writes a piece making huge generalizations on the basis of a handful of anecdotes and stereotypes, and a little vague nostalgia. Since when is this considered critical thinking? I'm sure all academics have met lazy, entitled students during their careers. But what the author describes here is not at all representative of the student body I know.
This article makes the false claim that "Millennials don't read". In fact, 83% of Americans aged 18-29 report reading for pleasure, compared to 78% of 30- to 49-year-olds, 81% of 50- to 64-year-olds, and 80% of the 65+ cohort (figures here: http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/09/01/book-reading-2016/). The same study found that 80% of 18- to 29-year-olds read "for work or school", compared to a paltry 51% of the 50-64s, the generation in which the author of the above article implicitly places themself. Perhaps all this extra reading is helping millennials to understand the dangers of inserting carefully anonymised anecdotes into a discussion for which a considerable empirical evidence base exists; perhaps, though, it is simply teaching them that people are diverse and complex and that generational mud-slinging has never been a helpful way of understanding extremely particular systems such as Higher Education. I am excited to see the form which the THE's correction and apology will take.
The amount of classism, ableism, and racism embedded in this article is precisely what is wrong with higher ed. Yes, it is difficult to teach a generation of students that has very little hope that they will be able to make it financially (that generation is generally not millennials these days). But simultaneously making mention of the struggles of younger generations while attributing the challenges that come with teaching them to their laziness rather than a structural issue is... lazy. As a millennial and a prof, I’ve taken up the challenge to teach a generation with unique stressors and it’s been damned rewarding.
I heard something like this elsewhere. Brings back memories, my Latin teacher in an Italian middle school over 40 years ago said the same of us. Nothing new under the sun. Teachers saying that students are lazier than in the past have always been there, and not just the teachers.
I heard something like this elsewhere. Brings back memories, my Latin teacher in an Italian middle school over 40 years ago said the same of us. Nothing new under the sun. Teachers saying that students are lazier than in the past have always been there, and not just the teachers.
Whose fault is it, exactly, that the university is simply a money-gobbling credential factory and not a place to learn and think? 19 year olds didn’t do this. As others have noted, the prof’s ressentiment in this article is very, very bizarre (though telling). “She wears EYE MAKEUP! Undergrads like to GO OUT WITH THEIR FRIENDS! Can you believe it?!!!”
Elaborately made up brown eyes was a detail to convey some of what was going on. I found it particularly apt since it was in the context of not really crying and putting on some kind of front. Ie saying you’re confused but skipping the face to face support offered. I think the criticisms of this well written thoughtful piece are somewhat snowflake themselves and show how extensive the battle lines are.
Elaborately made up brown eyes was a detail to convey some of what was going on. I found it particularly apt since it was in the context of not really crying and putting on some kind of front. Ie saying you’re confused but skipping the face to face support offered. I think the criticisms of this well written thoughtful piece are somewhat snowflake themselves and show how extensive the battle lines are.
"The modern university is a factory, not a greenhouse." ^^^^^This is the/your issue. Well, one of your issues, you have many more you project all over your students. Please get some bias training and counseling then reassess if you have what it takes to be a modern teacher. Your academic gatekeeping isn't serving you or anyone. What does someones choice in announcement of their identity (make up & clothing) have to do with their ability to learn? These types of students have always existed and are increading due to increased pressure on individuals to do more with less; the expectations you had going into this work not meeting reality is your problem and you have the power to fix your perspective, they are just a product of late stage capitalism.
Besides agreeing with most of the sentiment in earlier responses; I must say that the cursory statement by the author regarding empathy for America's Student Debt Epidemic is very telling. How should they (millennials) better balance a f/t job while desiring to better themselves with higher education is completely complicated by the generational boot on the neck that collegiate institutions, banks, and the U.S. government are applying to this generation with massive student debt. If you believe that the "story" and implications of that debt are not gigantic, inter-related and impacting students ability to focus and to speed through collegiate work; jesh; the author should not use the word "empathy" in their depiction because they are ignorant of the enormous impact of this societal public health issue.
Sorry, but I agree wholeheartedly. I am almost 40, and thankfully just barely shy of being considered a “millennial.” That is a shameful and embarrassing distinction for my age group. Yes, there have always been students here and there who didn’t take college seriously. But there has never been a mass of students who follow this philosophy and probably have no business being in college in the first place. I am an adult, non-traditional college student. I see all these behaviors frequently in the younger students. They just don’t care. They want the reward without putting forth the effort to earn it. I said EARN, not be handed. The “entitlement” mentality is not just a cruel dig. It is true. No, it doesn’t apply to ALL, but many. They dn’t realize how entitled they are. Never actually having to work for anything and expecting everything in return. And I do not feel a bit sorry for them for their “burden of student loans.” They took the loans through no one’s choice but their own. They didn’t bother to do the reasearch nor the math required to really understand their loans. They go and major in something stupid, or go to an unaccredited school, then whine and complain that they can’t pay their loans. That is THEIR OWN FAULT! Not the college’s, not their parent’s, not the system’s. It is THEIR fault. These young people think they’re so clever and brilliant, but much too stupid to understand their own student loans. Hey, they CHOSE to go to college. No one forced them. No one forced them to take loans. Then they want “forgiveness” and feel entitled to a free education because somehow they were wronged. Ever other generation took out loans, took responsibility for the loans, and worked to pay them. They didn’t sit on their pity pots whining. Further, they have no idea what reasearch means. Googling something or referencing Wikipedia is NOT research. Most of the things you read online are inaccurate anyway. When I took a composition class, we were told we could not use Wikipedia as a source. It is not always accurate. Research is not looking something up online and copying what you read. Reasearch is complex study using a variety of sources and mastering the subject. Yes, our education system has been dumbed down. Therefore, college admissions and academics have been dumbed down. But when you can’t even write a proper paper when you reach college. The problem is much worse. Now anyone can go to college. It is no longer a mark of academic excellence and prestige. They have killed the humanities. This is very sad. All they care about or have any knowledge of is technology. They are not well-versed on many subjects. They have no interest in learning anything besides the latest technology. Then, I must ask, what happens when the tech field is saturated? They can’t find jobs because they are the same boring, cookie cutter “tech expert” just like the job applicant before them with nothing different or unique to offer. They have no interest or knowledge in history, philosophy, languages, literature, etc. They consider them “useless” subjects because they feel they offer no practical skills. This cannot be further from the truth. Not everything in life is going to be practical. That’s what makes life interesting. The humanities offer a variety of skills and ways of thinking that other subjects do not provide. This is important. They teach you how to problem solve. They teach you numerous things. Lastly, suck it up, buttercups! College is not supposed to be easy. I am sick of hearing about how “stressed out” they are and how “depressed” they are. Stop hanging out with friends every night, and put some focus on why you’re in college in the first place. If you can’t handle the work load, please drop out because you have no business being there. They think they’re
Excellent article; the average English undergraduate manifests the same dysfunctional attitudes. I agree entirely with Gideontodes: "I think the criticisms of this well written thoughtful piece are somewhat snowflake themselves and show how extensive the battle lines are." In England, it may be that things will improve over the next decade or so, given that, I gather, many schools in England have begun to emphasise the 'growth mindset'-- central to which is bringing students to realise and accept the *fact* that how much they learn, how much their cognitive skills develop, is a function of their own work. The brain is like a muscle: no teacher can 'deliver' learning to you, any more than a personal trainer can 'deliver' physical fitness to you. Universities don't actually have to wait for this cohort to filter through, though; research indicates that universities can have a significant effect on students attitudes, if the institution as a whole consistently presents the right messages rather than the wrong messages. Unfortunately, English universities seem either unaware of this or unwilling to try it. A cynic would say that English university managements want to encourage students to have the attitude that academic staff are responsible for 'delivering' education to students because-- although this attitude actually harms students, by impeding their learning and development-- it enables management (and Government) to use students as a stick with which to beat academics.

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