Academic journal article Journal of College Counseling

Working with the Millennial Generation: Challenges Facing 21st-Century Students from the Perspective of University Staff

Academic journal article Journal of College Counseling

Working with the Millennial Generation: Challenges Facing 21st-Century Students from the Perspective of University Staff

Article excerpt

Our study focused on the emerging adults of the millennial generation, roughly defined as people born between 1982 and 2002 (Atkinson, 2004; Howe & Strauss, 2000). Millennial are the largest generation to date (Howe & Strauss, 2000; Monaco, 2009). In 2007, the number of millennial students was more than 90 million strong and growing, far outnumbering members of Generation X (Howe & Strauss, 2007). Collectively, millennial students are highly diverse (Broido, 2004; DeBard, 2004; Howe & Strauss, 2000) and well educated (Howe & Strauss, 2000).

Characteristics of Millennial College Students

Several common characteristics have been identified of the millennial generation. In the well-cited book, Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation (Howe & Strauss, 2000), the authors cited the following traits of the millennials: special, sheltered, confident, team-oriented, conventional, pressured, and achieving. Howe and Strauss discussed these traits again in their 2007 book titled Millennials Go to College. A number of other authors discussed these same millennial traits in their publications (Atkinson, 2004; DeBard, 2004; Lowery, 2004; McGlynn, 2005).

A brief description of each of the millennial generation traits, as discussed in Howe and Strauss (2007), follows. The authors reasoned that the millennials are special in that they were wanted as children and "have absorbed the adult message that they dominate America's agenda" (p. 60). The authors further expounded upon the millennial traits, such as this generation being sheltered, stating, "When millennials entered college, administrators began reporting a huge increase in 'helicopter parents,' who constantly phone and email faculty and deans to talk about grades, moods, foods, or whatever, in the belief that their children require extra care" (p. 63).

Regarding confidence, Howe and Strauss (2007) described the members of this generation as extreme optimists, with many students touting the belief that positive attitudes may be sufficient in solving problems. The authors also explained millennials' team orientation, which is often starkly different from the individualistic style of many members of Generation X. Howe and Strauss (2007) further described the millennials as conventional (again in contrast to Generation X): "Millennials show signs of trying to reestablish a regime of rules.... Their rebellion lies in moving to the ordered center, rather than pushing the anarchic edge" (p. 69). The authors also stated that the millennials are pressured: "If many college-graduating millennials are coming home to live with their parents ... it's not because they want to mooch, but rather because they want to avoid making a wrong career choice at a fateful point in their lives" (p. 73). Finally, Howe and Strauss (2007) discussed millennials' focus on achievement, stating that these students overall are very concerned with grades and academic performance, so much so that they often want feedback before they have completed a project or exam. Regarding intergenerational differences, Coomes and DeBard (2004) said that millennials "see themselves as a counterpoint to the generation that immediately preceded it [Generation X]" (p. 9).

In addition to the unique traits ascribed to millennials, there have been several key health, academic, and social concerns associated with this generation. Health concerns that appear to have greatly increased for this generation include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, asthma, and obesity (Howe & Strauss, 2000; Strange, 2004). Furthermore, academically, as the millennials have often been described as pressured and hyper-focused on achievement, they also frequently experience increased stress and feelings of being overwhelmed (Twenge, 2006). Moreover, social/relational issues, such as overprotective and controlling parents (helicopter parents), may inhibit individuation and independent action (Luyckx, Soenens, Vansteenkiste, Goossens, & Berzonsky, 2007). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.