US College Students More Entitled Than Ever

College is intended to broaden educational and social horizons. Students are meant to study and perform, earn their good grades, and graduate with an intended degree and a satisfied sense of accomplishment.

However, the trend of entitlement seems to be progressively seeping into our college age culture. It appears they are more self-important and self-infatuated than usual, in comparison to their previous peers, according to data in the American Freshman Survey. There is a notable decline on the amount of time invested in studying. However, their drive to succeed has risen. But students do not appear to want to invest the necessary time, assuming they’ll be handed accolades based on little effort.

Since 1966, during orientation and registration, thousands of two-year and four-year colleges and universities have administered a freshman survey as part of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) of the Higher Education Research Institute.

The survey covers a wide range of student characteristics including parental income and education, ethnicity, and demographic items surrounding financial aid, secondary educational achievement and activities, career plans, values, attitudes, beliefs, and self-perception.

The results are published annually in “The American Freshman” and provide a comprehensive portrait of the changing character of entering students and American society.

Currently, students project an extremely confident sense of importance and talents, regardless of actually accomplishing or demonstrating associated skills. A celebrity culture based on little to no actual achievement or effort seems to be part of the problem, fueling the desire for fame, although short lived and undeserved. There is a clear disconnect between the perception of the students high opinion of themselves versus their actual abilities.

Students assess themselves as being above average more so than their predecessors on the study, according to Psychologist Jean Twenge and her colleagues. The American Psychological Association asserts that among college students, subclinical levels of narcissism have steadily risen since the 1970’s.

Unfortunately, being egotistical teens can lead to unsatisfied, frustrated, and depressed adults. When raised with the misperception of being indulged and rewarded on every little applied effort, the reality of unachieved unrealistic expectations leads to failure in adulthood. They’ve not learned the skills to really challenge themselves or functional coping mechanisms necessary to effectively problem solve. You do not get a pat on the head and a parade just for showing up to work.

[Photo Credit: Narcissus, by Michelangelo Merisi da Carvaggio]