The New Generation of College Students

college students at graduation
College graduate in cap and gown || Image from Reuters

American colleges have gained a reputation for whiny students making demands to professors holding leverage of tantrums and social justice. These students are a part of the millennial generation which will graduate soon. Generation Z students will come in to replace them. So before my peers and I enter into college lets take a look at how these two generations differ.

First, we must examine the times we grew up in. Millennial’s had the overlooked privilege of growing up in an economic boom during the 90’s. Kurt Andersen of The New York Times supports this in an article defending the 90’s as “The Best Decade Ever.” He writes, “The United States economy grew by an average of 4% per year between 1992 and 1999… An average of 1.7 million jobs a year were added to the American work force, versus around 850,000 a year during this century so far. The unemployment rate dropped from nearly 8 percent in 1992 to 4 percent — that is, effectively zero — at the end of the decade.”

Gen Zed were barely toddlers at the time and most weren’t even alive for half of the decade. Instead, we had to endure the Recession of 2008 as children.

The US lost 8.4 million jobs and was the longest lasting recession since after World War II. Even after the recession, families endured hard times. The divorce rate grew as the economy recovered according to the LA Times:

“Across the country, the divorce rate among married women dropped from 2.09% to 1.95% from 2008 to 2009, then crept back up to 1.98% in both 2010 and 2011.”

Broken families are nothing new in America but they have a profound effect on children. With divorce on the rise, it leaves many children in adolescence feeling confused and disenfranchised.

One common ailment of the two generations is their maturity and growth in a post-9/11 America.

As for how the next generation will view politics, it is summed up in “Generation Z Goes to College” by Meghan Grace. Her research finds that at least 75% of generation Z is concerned government interference on personal freedom (i.e. gun ownership or abortion rights). In short, the next generations viewpoint in politics could lean most towards the Libertarian movement in America. 

The American political landscape has been shifting ever since its inception and is no stranger to change. Yet we have a general sense of when change is coming and there seems to be a change on the horizon. The clashes that could happen between libertarian/conservative students and progressive professors could come more often in the next few years.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.