"Angel", I inquired, "Did you see this BBC article about the College Freshman Survey?" "No, Mr. B, I just watch CBS", she replied, filing her nails on my divan. (Oh, I forgot to introduce a new character to the
"Sure, Mr. B", she says, snapping her gum, but turning slightly blue while forgetting to breathe, "My whole class was, we were all above average that year, and very smart too... Are we almost done today, my head hurts from all this thinking?". For once my intern and I are on the same page, my head hurts too, and we've only been working for an hour. I shouldn't be surprised though, when I was in college in the 80's, half of the students surveyed said they studied for 6 or more hours each week and now that figure is a little more than 1/3. The more startlingly fact is that the successive classes have each rated themselves as having a higher drive to succeed in spite of spending significantly less time actually studying or working to achieve their goals. Why the disconnect?
One theory puts the blame solely on the backs of the "Self Esteem" movement that had been prevalent in
"Sure", she beams, "I was an award winning member of our swim team". Impressed, I press further, "What was your best swimming event, Angel?" "All of them", she states, "but I didn't like to get my hair wet so I didn't have to get in the pool at all, I just got the award for participating with the team, plus I looked great in my swimsuit!" Once again my intern and I agree on something, I've seen her during our office's casual Fridays and she does look great in her swimsuit.
I've got no easy answers except to going back to the way we were raised. Enforce the values of hard work, effort, humility, charity, and thrift in your homes and with the youth that you influence. The adults too, for that matter. It's never too late to change and unfortunately this Freshman class has a rude awakening coming when they enter the real world and they don't succeed in spite of their feelings that they are head and shoulders above their peers. Could this be part of the reason for the increased instances of depression in young adults? Sure. Reward real effort and achievement, not participation. Stop celebrating celebrity in your homes. These are hard changes but ultimately worth it. I'd ask Angel her opinion again, but she's napping now and she's so cute when she's sleeping.