This story was previously published in USC’s Daily Trojan on Oct. 27, 2015
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Our generation doesn’t get enough credit. A recent Washington Post article claimed that millennials were the most coddled of all generations of college students because we had both helicopter parents and universities that were making the experience too easy.
The article states that online registration, a clear list of prescribed classes needed for graduation and the higher percentage of college students receiving A’s is a sign that students aren’t properly learning how to grapple with the “real world.” The author claims that these new characteristics of the college experience mean that, compared to previous generations, we aren’t as ready to deal with failure by the time we graduate.
But this is faulty logic. Millennials are constantly faced with the prospect of failure. We have just learned how to lessen the blow. We can discern where in life we allow people to step in to help guide us. We won’t just let failure happen when we know we have new resources available to us.
Many define helicopter parents as those who take an excessive interest in the lives of their child, to the point of not allowing their kids to learn to do things for themselves. They are the ones who speak on the phone with their children daily, pay their kids’ credit card bills for them and have a heavy presence on their children’s Facebook pages. Yet helicopter parents, if we even want to call them that, are not giving us a crutch for adulthood.
College students today are learning and living lives completely different from the ones that previous college students have experienced. We need different methods of surviving.
I think it’s difficult for today’s academics to understand the role of a connected parent and concerned university because technology and its use has progressed so much since their four years in undergraduate education. In the past, they leaned on their friends and those immediately around them to provide advice and support when they failed a test, got out of a difficult interview and were asked the perennial question, “What am I doing with my life?” Today, for all of those concerns, I can make a quick phone call to my parents in addition to asking my college roommates.
College students aren’t replacing the troubleshooting process. They’re just expanding it.
Another reason helicopter parents and accommodating universities shouldn’t be attacked is because the post-grad reality millennials step into every spring requires us to have wiser and more experienced voices giving advice.
Failure in college is way more expensive than it was in the past. Since 1978, the cost of higher educationhas risen 1,120 percent. The ticket price for USC tuition is $49,464 this year. When my mom graduated in 1980, the average tuition for a private institution cost $4,912 a year, according to the National Center for Education statistics.
The percentage increase for college tuition is higher than any other consumer good, according to a 2012 Bloomberg Business article. Not to mention, the job prospects of full-time employment with benefits aren’t as bright as they were before.
It used to be feasible for someone to work their way through school. Now, it’s impossible to think that college students can’t get through school without some form of support from parents, guardians or mentors to help them navigate the experience.
Our parents who went to college have seen the extreme changes in the price for a college education. Parents have great incentive to make the college process as smooth and successful as possible because that will most likely make it as inexpensive as possible for their pocketbooks.
We shouldn’t judge millennials and their parents for reshaping the type of relationships they have in college. The parameters of college are different than they were for previous generations. We millennials have adjusted accordingly.
For many millennials, the distinction between the “real world” and adulthood in college is becoming fuzzier. Parents and those making decisions at universities are living in the real world, so they can help guide us. I think it’s far less wise to turn away their assistance because there’s a group claiming we might be coddled. We should start being smart and recognize that we need extra assistance for the additional pressures that come our way.
After reading “Wait An L.A. Minute” on Tuesdays, join Jordyn Holman in her millennial conversations on Twitter @JordynJournals. She’s a senior studying print and digital journalism.