The young adults of every generation are often labeled. In the 1950s, the baby boomers were explorers — somewhat innocent and just discovering their newfound power as consumers and members of society. The ’60s are famously associated with the rebellious young adult life of Generation X, stereotypically linked with sex, drugs and questioning the government.
Every generation is unique and is raised according to a certain set of ideals, interested in a broad set of topics, equipped with a new set of technological advances and faced with different hardships. Despite these differences, one similarity every group shares is that without them, America would not be the same.
Today, we are known as the Millennial generation, Generation Y, the YOLO generation, the “me” generation, youth of the 2000s. And as all generations before and generations to come, we have our problems.
Loyolans are well aware that the poor economic situation in America is one of the biggest hardships facing our generation. According to the Institute of Higher Education Policy, two out of five students default on their loans within the first five years of attempting to pay them off after graduating college. Because of this, the Millennials are forced to consider student loans, student debt, and the current job market before making decisions concerning college or any other higher education program.
Along with economic issues, the Millennials’ apathy about certain issues is a growing concern of Generation X.
Have you ever been ridiculed by an older adult for always texting? Has your professor commented that no one will start the assignment earlier than the night before? Have you been scolded for Googling something instead of opening a textbook? Whether you answered yes to one or all of these questions, they are deeply reflective of the disapproval of our generation.
However, the PHOENIX Editorial Board believes it is important to be able to recognize the positive aspects of our generation in the midst of criticism.
Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t lazy – and there are numbers to prove it. A series of reports exploring the facts about Millennials was published in February 2010 by the Pew Research Center and offers valuable evidence that maintains that the Millennial generation is an effective one.
According to Pew’s findings, nine out of 10 Millennials reported already having enough money or having an established plan in order to make enough to sustain themselves in the future. This demonstrates that although we are entering the workforce during a recession, we are innovating to make the best of the situation.
Despite the U.S. Department of Labor’s August 2013 report of a 9.2 percent unemployment rate in Illinois in 2010, Millennials are translating the low employment rate into an opportunity to further education.
The executive summary of Pew’s findings suggests that more young people than ever are considering enrolling in college or even graduate school once they realize that the odds of finding a job without education are slim.
In addition, although often accused of political disinterest, another survey conducted by the Pew Research Center on registered voters concluded that more young adults in 2008 were recorded to have voted than any year since 1972, when 18- to 21 year olds were first given the right to vote.
Not only do we challenge the stereotypes, but there are a variety of advances unique to the Millennials. The advancement of technology is perhaps one of the biggest advantages of growing up during this time. It is because of this that we are constantly being described as the “connected” generation.
While we are guilty of sometimes sending a text when we should have a face-to-face conversation, spending way too much time on social networks or relying on Wikipedia for important information, we have also used technology in positive ways.
Because technology is quick and efficient, it has allowed us to broaden both our knowledge areas as well as build and maintain relationships. Since we are able to get our hands on information so quickly, we have access to a wider range of topics. Our communication networks are as expanded as ever, bridging even international communication barriers.
There is a certain disposition embodied in the general personalities, values and goals of Millennials. In summary of its overall generational findings, Pew describes Millennials as “confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change.” If anything, we have come close to abandoning the stereotypes placed upon us by Generation X and moved toward a more open-minded way of thinking. Pew’s description of this generation reflects several of its studies in which Millennials stray away from the norm, including everything from abandoning the religion we were brought up on to enjoying self-expression through less socially accepted ways such as tattoos.
Without forgetting where we as a generation fall short, it is important to recognize and appreciate the qualifications of the Millennials. The PHOENIX Editorial Board asks that we all step up and come together to make even more advances on behalf of America’s young adult crowd.
Looking ahead, the criticisms of each new generation should be channeled into a more positive outlook. When America faces its next generation of young adults, it is better to motivate and enlighten them from the start, rather than stereotype and criticize them. If our generation can come together in this way, we can turn this condemnation into a cooperative nation.