I recently joined the campus rec center. I go during the lunch hour. This is unusual for me to be out of my office. I only leave my den usually for a meeting or some other mandatory event. My point being is that this lunchtime activity gets me out of the office during the middle of the day and I can walk at a casual pace (I’m always 5 minutes behind, so I typically rush everywhere). During my casual walks, I am able to look around and listen to what is going on around me.
Working on a medium sized university campus with the majority being the traditional 18 – 22 student. But, is even the “traditional student” traditional? No. During my walks over the past week, I have overheard some conversations – the majority being one sided (cell phones). As first, I tried not to listen, but this week, I am beginning to realize that this ‘listening’ could actually help me and my students. I have learned that some students are homesick, others don’t want to leave college – ever. I heard one student talk about not having a job after school. Another with such conviction said that he didn’t want to be a bad father and he was sorry.
They’re not just high school kids. They are individual students with real problems. Regardless of how emo, offbeat, in vogue or straight (aka ‘I’m okay’) they want to be, they are alike, but also very different. As administrators, educators and the general public, we need to embrace this! Millennials, although receiving a bad rap by some, are very diverse, aware and capable. They may actually teach us something.
Education has become, and will remain, a staple. Students also have choices when it comes to universities and colleges. Now that the largest high school class in history is preparing to graduate, what will higher education do for next year’s class? Simple. We need to address the issues, traits, and overall individuality that comes with every student. If our goal is for the student, then admissions and retention will just fall in place.