Staff Editorial: Talkin’ Bout my Generation

Our Position: To combat recent prevalence of political ignorance and indifference in today’s youth, LT should include a mandatory political education class to create an educated voter base.

Modern culture would like you to think that this generation, the one that all LT students are currently part of, is the laziest, most entitled and least academically intelligent generation the U.S. has ever known. Statistics could show you that attention spans are on the decline; test scores are behind that of other foreign nations and that the millennials are so far behind where their predecessors were. As millennials, it’s tough to deal with these kind of hateful comments. Many millennials are trying as hard as they can and are being told that their best just isn’t good enough, and that is pretty disheartening.
The real question is: is all this hateful language describing our generation really true? Are we worse than our predecessors, or are we just falling victim to unfounded criticism? Some statistics are alarming, like the fact that we have been consistently falling in the placement and score of the Programme for International Student Assessment, now currently placed in the 30s and high 20s.
However, in recent years, high school graduation and college enrollment rates have increased. So there seem to be contradicting statistics. International tests seem to indicate that the U.S. has become consistently less educated, and internal statistics suggest that we are receiving successful developmental educations.
A researcher would see the connection and make the assumption that, over the years, the U.S. has been lowering the standard of its education, thus making graduation and college enrollment more attainable, and lower test scores more likely. However, just the opposite is true. Colleges have higher criteria than ever for application, and high schools are raising the difficulty of their curriculum.
In reality, as much as statistics suggest otherwise, the U.S. is still home to some of the smartest students and a great education system. This growing gap in test scores is due to the fact that many schools teach towards testing curriculum as opposed to general knowledge, leading to higher test scores for countries with such practices. The U.S. students and their standard of education, in reality, is rising. Colleges are more advanced than ever, and the simple fact of the matter is that some of the smartest students in other countries try to continue their education in America.
Academics aside, if millennials were to walk up to adults in their fifties or beyond and ask them identify what is wrong with our generation, there is a good chance that the questioners would get an earful of words like lazy, entitled and unambitious. And not only do reports like these come from crotchety old men, but viable news sources like Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. These news outlets report that, statistically, this generation is the least employed and the least entrepreneurial. But are these statistics actually correlated with these young men and women or just the times that we are living in?
Realistically, the generations we are being compared to have not faced economies similar to that of the Millennials. The Baby Boomers dealt with post-war prosperity and Generation X dealt with the economic prosperity of the Reagan era. Meanwhile, Millennials have dealt with the worst economy since the Great Depression, and due to their lack of opportunities, not only their employment, but also their reputation has suffered.
Really, in the end, it’s all subjective. You can’t paint any generation as the worst, because different consequences affect them. It’s not the Millennials’ fault that new technology collectively lowered society’s attention span, nor is it to Baby Boomers’ credit that they thrived in a post-war economy. Ultimately, it is just the role of older generations to complain about the generation preceding them. It’s just the circle of life.