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Book: College kids today are coddled, entitled, tech-savvy

America’s colleges universities are graduating coddled entitled group tharrive workplace ready make their own rules with little no respect for

America’s colleges and universities are graduating a coddled, entitled group that arrive in the workplace ready to make their own rules with little to no respect for more senior employees, according to a new book. | Sun-Times Media file

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Updated: September 22, 2012 6:18AM



Today’s college students boast the highest GPAs in history, thanks to grade inflation, but believe their contributions are undervalued.

They think, as individuals, they are destined for greatness but that America is headed toward disaster.

More than half of them call their parents heroes and about 40 percent communicate with them daily. If parents don’t like what they’re hearing from campus, they are quick to call university administration, leading one campus to set up an unofficial “dean of parents” position.

America’s colleges and universities are graduating a coddled, entitled group that arrive in the workplace ready to make their own rules, spend the day on Facebook, Twitter or texting on their phones and with little to no respect for more senior employees, according to “Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today’s College Student” (Jossey-Bass, $40), a new book from seasoned education researchers.

“They are the most passively affirmed generation in history,” said Diane Dean, a higher education policy professor at Illinois State University who co-authored the book. “They are used to having their parents intervene in every regard. This is a generation of young adults who have never really experienced failure or faced that reality or come to terms with it. They’ve come to believe their own elevated sense of self-importance.”

Since 2007, dean and co-author Arthur Levine, president emeritus of Teachers College at Columbia University, visited more than 30 campuses and surveyed hundreds of college students and senior student affairs officers throughout the country. Levine previously wrote two other books, in 1980 and 1998, on prior generations of college students. The current book references 40 years worth of studies.

While the assessment may seem harsh, local university students starting the new school year did not disagree with Dean and Levine’s findings.

“I think we are coddled to a point,” said Melissa Joyce, 22, a Robert Morris University senior. “Our parents had to grow up working for what they wanted and in turn they want to provide us with the opportunities they didn’t have.”

Atiq and Sobia Zaman, of Toronto, were in Chicago with daughter Tehniat, 22, who is starting her first year at DePaul University College of Law.

“I think the parents are involved,” Atiq Zaman said. “We chat almost every day. I’m certainly interested in how she is faring in school.”

There were some bright spots in the research. Today’s students are the first group of “digital natives” that came of age in a world where cellphones and personal computers were commonplace. Their social groups are more multiracial than ever before.

“They bring all kinds of digital skills and knowledge that the workplace definitely needs and by which the country will progress,” Levine said. “The capacity to work together across racial lines is an extraordinary plus.”



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