On a recent blog post on the Student Affair Collaborative, the conversation continued with the how to appropriately work with millennial students. When the first conversations arose, it was a much simpler conversation. Millennials are special, sheltered, etc. This was missing the context of how these students would actually show up when they reached the collegiate level.
So what are the key points from the article?
- “Recognize us” – Not necessarily in award form but just acknowledgeable that the work is good and getting done.
- “We are not a plague” – Drop the negative connotation and acknowledge that millennials are simply different from previous generations.
- Uniqueness – There is not simple generalization of all millennials.
- Independence – While many have trouble with taking initiative, millennials may need just a push to head in the right direction.
- Focus on Group Work – Use the uniqueness to let them collaborate and gain motivation from each other.
These five elements really put the concept of millennials more into perspective. It is true that every student is different and each one has their own special needs. They have been discriminated against because of the concepts of safety helmets and every kid getting a participation trophy. This was not the experience for everyone and it was perpetuated by the parental generation overseeing the millennials’ experiences. With the world being more connected but more complex, it is also more technologically-focused and can make it difficult for millennials to feel confident about their interpersonal skills away from electronic communication.
We, as student affairs professionals, cannot ignore the qualities (good and challenging) that make up millennials, nor can we assume that we known everything we need to know. Just wait until the next generation gets here and we start making assumptions about them…