Edward F. D. Spencer, Ph.D.

Edward F. D. Spencer Ph.D.

College Student Life

Two Faces of Millennials?

Are today's college students a bimodal population, i.e., of two different types?

Posted Mar 07, 2013

As I reflect on my experiences and interactions with our millennial college students (who have populated our campuses for the past 10-12 years), I see two distinct populations. One group is composed of those described by Neil Howe and Bill Strauss in their many writings about the millennial generation: altruistic, service-oriented, optimistic, civic-oriented, and truly oriented towards helping, serving, and recognizing others (www.ac4p.org). The other group is composed of those who dominate the Alcohol and Hook-Up Cultures which I have written about in earlier posts: heavy partiers and drinkers who often drink to get drunk and engage in random, casual, and uncommitted sexual activity, and who are often described as shallow, self-centered, and feeling entitled.

Now, I do not think that these two cultures are mutually exclusive as I believe some from the first group occasionally engage in activities descriptive of the second group and, likewise, some from the second group sometimes display characteristics of the first group. But, let me raise several questions for reaction and discussion on the Blog:

1) Do others perceive this same "bimodal distribution" of millennials into the two types? If so, why has this bifurcation occurred? What are the causes? Is this simply another form of the polarization of our society?

2) What are the consequences for each type of student for the present and for the future? Where will this lead for these two types of millennials down the road?

3) Should we be concerned about any of this? If so, what actions should we take?

What do YOU think?