Fascinating takeaways from this interview with researcher Arthur Levine, who’s been exploring the psyche of college students for 40 years.
1. They’re optimistic, but perhaps unjustifiably so: “Two out of five students have a grade-point average of A- or better, almost six times as many as in 1969, and 60 percent of them nonetheless say their grades understate the true quality of their work. Only 5 percent have a G.P.A. of C or less, even though almost half have had to take remedial courses.”
2. They’re hyper-connected. “They’re interested in global issues and deal with diversity better than any generation before them.”
3. They’re pragmatic. “They say their primary reason for going to college is to get training and skills that will lead to a job, and let them make money. They’re willing to have a major they’re not really interested in if they think there will be job growth in that field. They’re much less likely than their predecessors to say they’re in college to develop their personal values, or learn to get along with different people.”
4. They’re very close to — and overly dependent on– their parents. “We heard about the mom who called 15 times in a single afternoon, all the way up to the president, when her son had trouble with his wireless connection.”
5. They’re more race-neutral than ever before. “There’s been a real shift in race relations. In the last two rounds, it was like black and white students had grown up in completely different worlds. When we would ask about different figures, blacks liked the ones whites didn’t like — like Jesse Jackson and Spike Lee — and vice versa. But now they tend to like and dislike the same people.”
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