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There is no doubt in the fact that millennials live way different lives than their parents used to live. You can see these differences in almost every aspect of our society, and the college experience is no exception. Baby boomers didn’t have to pay a fortune to go to college and they were definitely more stress free than millennials are. But on the other side, they didn’t have too many options for their future, or technology and social media to help them.
In this article, we’ll list the main differences between the college experience that a baby boomer had and the college experience that a millennial is having nowadays.
According to NBC News, the number of people in the US who are going to college after finishing high school, has more than doubled since the 1970s. And given the fact that more and more people are applying to colleges, it’s getting harder and harder for millennials to get into the college that they dream of. For example, the acceptance rate for Columbia University in 1988 was 65%, and today that number has gone down to only 7%. That difference is more than significant, and these numbers won’t go up any time soon.
This is the first thing that comes in one’s mind when they think about college – the money. Today in the United States, a regular family has to think about a college fund for their kids even before these kids are born. Just like the number of people who apply for college, college tuition has more than doubled since the 1980s. There are numerous people nowadays who have all the necessary skills and knowledge to get into a particular college, but they simply can’t afford it.
This is definitely another burden that millennials have to carry and most of the times, they really have to struggle to put themselves through college. A lot of kids get full time jobs while still trying to make it to all their classes and pass all their exams. By the end of college, their stress level is so high, that they can’t even figure it out if it was worth it or not.
Money and admission wise, we can definitely say that baby boomers had it way easier. But if we look at the situation from another perspective, baby boomers definitely had their own struggles. They didn’t have technology back then, at least not the kind that would help them survive college. They didn’t have things such as e-learning or online homework help.
The Internet has definitely changed every aspect in the life of a student. Classrooms nowadays are full of laptops and mobile devices, which can be a good and a bad thing at the same time. Back in the old days, if you missed a class, you would have had to ask for notes from your colleagues. Nowadays, all you have to do is to get the PowerPoint presentation from a website where the teacher is uploading it, or ask a colleague to send you some pictures via Whatsapp.
The difference is major, and millennials have it way more easier when it comes to the actually studying in college. But because of a bunch of other factors, the stress level is still worse than what baby boomers used to have.
Another great thing that millennials have nowadays, is diversity. The world around us is changing, it becomes more permissive, more diverse.
First of all, the number of women who go to college is significantly higher than what it used to be back in the 1970s. Back then, it wasn’t so common for any girl who finished high school to go further with her studies; it was a practice that mostly men were encouraged for.
Second of all, more and more foreign students come to the US to continue their studies. Forty years ago, it would have been a pretty strange thing to see an American, an Asian and an European all sitting at the same table at lunch break in college. Nowadays, people from all around the world spend their time in American colleges, building their future together. The cultural exchange is amazing, and it plays an important role in every young men or woman’s life.
Baby boomers will always say that they had it way worse than millennials have it today, because they didn’t have the Internet and all the technology that millennials have. Boomers had a lot of struggles and they didn’t have as much freedom as millennials have, but they often seem to ignore the big challenges that a student nowadays has to face. Their stress level is through the roof, the money that they have to pay annually make up a fortune and even with all this effort, nothing is guaranteed for them.
Ryan Yarbrough is a small business consultant, speaker, and the manager at Davis Financial Services, a small business consulting firm.