Virginia Tech Student Affairs administrator shares research on millennial generation

January 31, 2006

The Millennial Generation -- Americans born between 1982 and the present -- are a high-achieving, intelligent, and optimistic group, but are often under prepared for the challenges of an independent lifestyle, according to Edward Spencer, associate vice president for student affairs at Virginia Tech. This lack of preparedness typically results from over-attentive parenting and the tendency to shelter children from obstacles that might be necessary for healthy development, he said.

Spencer, who teaches a graduate level course on "The American College Student and the College Environment," also said that Millennial students are inclined to be more academically disengaged than past generations. While Millennials have been getting higher grades than ever before, they lack connection with the material and spend much less time studying than students from past generations, he said. Spencer suggests that this change is partly due to an emphasis on end products rather than the methods of achieving them.

In the interest of helping parents prepare their children for success in higher education and the working world, and to close the gap between higher-education and secondary-school perspectives on learning, Spencer shared his research results at North Cross High School in Roanoke, Va. The presentation, "Understanding and Working with Millennials," focused on the changing relationship between parents and this new generation.

"Parents tend to focus directly on performance, but often fail to emphasize the need for reflective thinking and developing a meaningful philosophy of life," he said.

Spencer has worked as a professional in the field of student affairs for 35 years, and has made many research presentations on the nature of today's college students, among other topics. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Rochester, a master's degree from Syracuse University, and a master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of Delaware.

Virginia Tech

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