I believe in today’s college first-year students. Maybe it’s because I’m young, or maybe it’s because this is only my first year teaching at the university level. Whatever it may be, I am idealistic about today’s youth. Though they are often referred to as the entitlement generation, I have seen students work hard and sincerely care about the work they turn in. The general consensus concerning college freshmen or “first years” are that they are far too impressed with alcohol, sex, and drugs to care about their school work. I, however, have witnessed the opposite. The majority of my students in a general education required course, public speaking, come to class consistently, are engaged in discussion, and are genuinely interested in improving their skills.
They are a different generation though. They are known as Millennials – those who were born starting in 1980. They grew up in a different world than the majority of the professors who attempt to teach them. They had different advantages in the classroom, grew up in a world of technology, and experience life differently because their youth was defined by such events as the Columbine shootings and 9/11.
They might come off as arrogant, impatient, and inexperienced, and many of them may be these things. But they are also positive, techno-savvy, and goal-oriented. They have high expectations of others and set high expectations for themselves. In the upcoming election, they are some of the most engaged and involved in political discourse. It is predicted that this election will result in the highest voter turnout ever, and I believe that is highly due to this up and coming generation that is educating themselves about the issues and getting involved in the political process.
As an idealistic first year teacher, I love my first year students. All of them. And all of them equally…well, mostly. But not only do I love them and appreciate them, I believe in them. And I think the rest of our society should start doing the same.