College students today: A study in contradictions

In a culture where everyone wins a trophy, where A’s outnumber C’s on report cards and where a child’s self-esteem is as polished as the family silver, it’s not surprising that young people feel good about themselves.

Do they feel too good?

Yes, says Arthur Levine, co-author of the new book, “Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today’s College Student,” a snapshot of the values, lives and aspirations of students enrolled in college between 2005 through current students.

“This is a generation of kids never permitted to skin their knees. If everyone won an award and you never really had to deal with adversity, why wouldn’t you think you were great?” asks Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and president emeritus of Teachers College, Columbia University.

That coddling, evidenced by parents still intervening for their kids with messy college roommates or demanding professors, is extending adolescence and delaying adulthood for the tightrope generation.

“As one person told us, 21 is the new 16,” says Levine. “This is a generation low in coping skills, low in dealing with adversity and low in autonomy.”

But high in confidence. While today’s college students are the beneficiary of inflated grades, the majority believe their grade point averages underestimate their accomplishments. More than two in five report GPA’s of A- or better, the highest rate in more than 40 years. Sixty percent believe their grades understate the quality of their work. Yet, 45 percent have had to take remedial courses.

They are also assured about their futures, although not about the prospects of the larger world. Despite coming of age amid one of the worst recessions in U.S. history, 88 percent are optimistic about their own fates and nearly three-fourths expect to be at least as well off as their parents.

“I can’t quite figure out how you can be so optimistic and believe that you are going to do better than your parents and yet be so pessimistic about the future of the country,” says Levine, who co-wrote the book with Diane Dean, an associate professor at Illinois State University.

Among other contradictions:

•Despite being in constant touch with friends, family and acquaintances via social media, young adults are weak at personal communications.

•An unprecedented proportion (89 percent) profess to want children, yet most describe social lives of casual relationships and sex.

•They view themselves as global citizens but the majority can’t recognize the names of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy or Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (Oddly, roughly equal numbers can’t recognise the name of “Daily Show” star Jon Stewart (34 percent) or conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh (36 percent)

When he began the book, Levine assumed that 9/11 would be the defining event in the lives of the tightrope generation. Instead, more students said the biggest impact was the introduction of the World Wide Web (42 percent), followed by the financial crisis (37 percent), 9/11 (29 percent) and the Barack Obama nomination and election (25 percent).

The most recent graduating class in the college-age cohort reflected in the book, the class of 2012, was born into a world of Apple, Microsoft and AOL. By their kindergarten, there were smart phones, DVDs and texting. By elementary school, Google, Napster and had arrived on the scene. Middle school witnessed Skype, MySpace and Facebook. And high school brought YouTube, and Twitter.

“For me, the big epiphany was these guys are the first digital natives,” says Levine, comparing them to children born into the Industrial Revolution. But the industrialization of America extended over six generations. The digital revolution occurred in a matter of decades.

“I don’t know if anyone is well prepared to face dramatic, continuing change at an accelerating pace, but these guys, with their lack of autonomy, their dependence on adults and their desire for some stability, are even less well prepared than generations that came before,” he says.

As a leader in higher education, Levine believes the college experience can help kids grow up, beginning with the academic equivalent of a kick to the shins.

“What would happen if we did away with grade inflation, if all of the students now getting A’s began getting B’s and C’s?” he says. “Would it work as a two-by-four in helping them understand where they really stand?”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

66 comments Add your comment

bootney farnsworth

September 16th, 2012
3:04 am

at last. a new topic

bootney farnsworth

September 16th, 2012
3:05 am

Levine is dead on. if anything, he understates the problem.

Rick in Grayson

September 16th, 2012
6:25 am

Good to know they have confidence in their abilities. They will need that to dig this nation out of a mountain of debt where most of the jobs have left for cheaper overseas labor markets and the remaining good STEM jobs are being accomplished by foreign workers on H1-B visas.

Our politicans have sold us out to remain in power without attempting to fix nagging structural problems.


September 16th, 2012
7:37 am

It is the fault of those teacher unions that are alive and thriving in Georgia!! Maybe charter schools are the fix, with all those helicopter parents hoovering around the building, that will straighten this mess out. Or could it be that this group is the same as mine gen X group that was told that they would turn out to be nothing? Maybe things don’t change!! “We sure could use a man like herbert hoover again” Those were the days.

Parent Too

September 16th, 2012
8:16 am

We have the education system and parents to blame,


September 16th, 2012
8:19 am

Ummm, @mark, wouldn’t the charter schools with their helicopter parents make them even worse? Isn’t this professor actually saying that the helicopter parents who have never allowed their child to *gasp* FAIL are a big part of the problem? Uncaring parents, overprotective parents… can’t win….oh, and for goodness sake, there are no teacher unions alive and thriving in Georgia.


September 16th, 2012
8:37 am

yes, Mark, your comment is nothing but ignorance

Tech Prof

September 16th, 2012
8:38 am

@Mark: Teachers in Georgia are not unionized. There are no teacher unions in Georgia.


September 16th, 2012
8:43 am

Have your second cup of coffee and reread Mark’s comment. It’s sarcasm, guys!


September 16th, 2012
8:46 am

My colleagues and I talk about this all the time. They don’t think they need us because they already know everything and are perfect the way they are. If there is a problem at school, it’s always our problem to fix it, even if the problem lies at the feet of the child. Our kids have no resiliency because someone is always rescuing them; they never learn how to defend themselves or learn from failure. My FIL works at a local university and tells me about GRADUATE students whose parents try to step in and intervene if a professor grades too hard. Pathetic. How will people ever learn to cope with adversity if they never face it? We talk about kids needing to develop problem solving skills, but how will they ever develop them if they never have to face problems?

Mel B

September 16th, 2012
8:46 am

Don’t know when this was printed, but Sarkozy is the former president of France; presently it’s Francois Hollande. And one more time, no-Georgia teachers are not unionized, i.e. protected from no raise in years even though they are required to work more every year.


September 16th, 2012
9:00 am

This guy has nailed it.

“Despite being in constant touch with friends, family and acquaintances via social media, young adults are weak at personal communications.”

While the current generation may have the latest technologically and can access information in the blink of any eye. In general, there has never been a group that has so much information, yet knows so little.
Failure can be a good thing, sometimes it teaches you as much or more than winning.


September 16th, 2012
9:08 am

Art Levine is well-respected in higher ed as a researcher and practitioner. I look forward to reading this.


September 16th, 2012
9:09 am

This isn’t my home… my son in college is a Mechanical Engineering major… his “freshman cohort” of 300 is down to 150 (again not at GA Tech but out of state) — he’s “clinging” to a 2.5 GPA. HIs dad and I have our fingers crossed that he’ll stay on track and get out in 4 years (he’s a junior now) and have his degree (those in the field say grades don’t matter… this isn’t our “perspective” on things) — he’s had summer internships that he’s done very well with so his “personal interaction skills” appear to be quite exceptional for his “generation” — he’s able to get himself out of bed, to work, on time, and figure out how to interact within he work place… but I’ve always (despite those of you who think from my post that I really ‘helicopter’) been very aware of the need for my boys to “skin their knees” (I read that book when they were in Kindergarten — or there a bouts and it hit home. It used to drive me looney when we played on teams that didn’t keep score — the kids kept score — they knew who won and who lost — that’s insane. We had a basketball team when the 20 year old was in 3rd grade — his team was a full head shorter than every other team — they didn’t have a prayer of winning a game (it was in a Baptist Church league) — they showed up to every game and practice, they played their hearts out — they still lost but they learned very important skills along the way about life. The Church felt awful that that record was so skewed. I was pleased they learned the life skills about showing up and playing your heart out and losing gracefully — just as important as winning gracefully –even when winning is much more fun (and we had those experiences too). Now, the lessons are about paying rent on time without messing my credit up and we talk about that regularly… the lessons must be learned as the grow. The high schoolers learn about credit and laundry and cooking. Life is a skill.


September 16th, 2012
9:22 am

I think the push for everyone to attend college, “academic” scholarships like Hope, and a customer service approach to education all play roles.

And until someone wants to define what a grade really reflects nothing will change.

And until parents, teachers, and administrators recognize that this over-emphasis on grades diminishes the integrity of learning, little will change.

And now that teachers are being evaluated by students-and students and parents like “good” grades, we may see even more excellent grades.

Equally scary is the number of students defaulting on college loans.


September 16th, 2012
9:37 am

You can’t blame schools for this one. This is the result of a perfect storm of parents worshipping their children and the constant testing under No Child Left Behind. We have created a generation globally number 1 in self esteem. When teachers attempt to make them more responsible, they shrugg and say their parents will take care of it, often times calling the parent on their cell phone, then handing the phone to the teacher with a “my Mama wants to talk to you.” They have no critical thinking skills and even scarier if you ask them their opinion, they will give you their parents’ opinion. When has a generation totally agreed with their parents? Striving to be their own person, breaking away to become independent is the natural order . Unfortunately, many parents want to be their friend and don’t mind if they never leave home. I’ve been saying for the last 10 years the best thing we can do for children is give them a t-shirt in kindergarten that reads “The world doesn;t love you like your Mama does. Deal with it.”

Parent Teacher

September 16th, 2012
9:43 am

So true, they have confidence in their abilities but no ability. Parents won’t let them take responsibility for their actions or inaction and blame the teachers when their precious little angel does not do well.

As to blaming education, first look at the system that the government has put in place. NCLB created an imposible system that could never be achieved. The legislature in GA continues to add to a system that can’t be successful in the attempt to privatize education.

Glad I have high expectations for my own kids and can teach them how to overcome adversity and that it takes hard work to be successful.

bootney farnsworth

September 16th, 2012
9:49 am

when I was at GPC, it was common for college to hit kids like at 2×4 to the face. and remember, GPC goes to great lengths to lessen the impact on kids.

main issues:
-having to get the work done on time
-adjusting to the reality they were no longer God’s gift to the HS they came from
-getting to class on time
-showing basic respect and courtesy to faculty
-an angry mother wasn’t going to bail them out (without a lot of work)

as for this “citizen of the world” crap: stupid kids being posers. a lot like HS girls going thru a vegetarian phase. if was always funny to watch how study abroad kids came back with a new appreciation of being US citizens.

bootney farnsworth

September 16th, 2012
9:54 am

you raise a generation of kids to think life has no consequences, this is what you get.
narcissistic, inattentive, and unable to grasp reality.

bootney farnsworth

September 16th, 2012
9:56 am

something the Oprah generation never taught:

self esteem is earned, not given. if you never fall, you never learn how to get back up


September 16th, 2012
10:12 am

I work with many recent college grads. It is amazing to me the complete lack of social skills most of them possess. Several of them won’t look you in the face when talking to you, but are constantly scanning to see who else is around. They frequently ignore senior staff members if they are talking to their age peers. They don’t respond well to instructions about standard operating procedures or criticism about their performance, but instead tell you that they know a better way to do it or that the criticism is just being mean or spiteful. They bring their cell phones everywhere and will even interrupt staff meetings to respond to a text message or tweet. We have had to institute a “cell phone stays at your desk” and a “no Facebook on company time” policy. We have clearly stated expectations for their work behavior several times and in several ways. But to no avail.

Unsurprisingly, many of them don’t last beyond a year before they quit or are terminated. Then they always say in the exit interviews that the company is too strict and old fashioned about technology and isn’t supportive of younger staff member’s ideas.


September 16th, 2012
10:47 am

These tightrope individuals have already invaded the workforce; especially in civil service. Ask a civil service employee any sort of simple question and you’ll get a computer generated answer. If the answer is not in the computer or some other kind of handheld device, they’ll tell you very quickly that your question is beyond their job discription or responsibility. And if they find an answer, it becomes gospel; nothing you say will convince them that another answer might be correct.

Another HS Math Teacher

September 16th, 2012
10:57 am

It’s sad to sit in a parent-teacher conference with parents who obviously worked very hard for their current place in life and see them crawl for their child who won’t even bother to bring pencil, paper, and book to class daily.

Both of my parents worked their way through college. I did, as did my younger brother and sister.
My family was well-off but this was understood that we would work our way through school because we were getting the education for ourselves. Personally, I don’t know of a more defining experience than doing something by yourself for yourself.

The line seems to blur between what the parents want and what the student wants when college choices are made. The stories I hear often sound like parents trying to re-write the past through their children.

In addition to high school in the daytime, I teach math classes at a local two-year college at night. A student in the traditional age range who is going to school for their own goals stands out from those going just because it is the thing to do. The second group always seems to be the ones who can’t make it to class on time, rarely complete assigned work, and immediatley ask after a failing test grade if that test can be re-taken and the higher grade used to replace the F.

This no-fault attitude started at my day job about 10 years ago and has for my night job become just as common for the last couple of years.

I am also the head of my HS math department and see similar outlooks from 1st year teachers about the job’s expectations from my view versus theirs. Common professional behavior is belittled by the 1st year teacher as busy work or old-school attitudes. They are frequently outraged when called to account for their deficiencies and resort to the “you don’t like me” complaint that sounds like a 5th grader’s excuse. This complaint is often also attached to prejudice references because we are different races, sexes, or went to a rival college.


September 16th, 2012
11:49 am

“An unprecedented proportion (89 percent) profess to want children, yet most describe social lives of casual relationships and sex.”

The author writes as though these two things are mutually exclusive. However we have pretty much zoomed far past the point where there is ANY shame or dishonor associated with bringing one or more little b@st@rds into the world for either mother or child.


September 16th, 2012
11:53 am

Don’t worry. If your son has a 2.5 in ME and he’s made it into his junior year, he should be fine. I know you said he’s not at Ga Tech (maybe Purdue?), but the year I got out of Tech the average gpa for graduating seniors was 2.6.

It’s good to know that they are still not handing out A’s like Halloween candy at our engineering schools.


September 16th, 2012
11:54 am

Those guys are already baked and if they think the world owes them a living, don’t worry, it will tell them “NO!” a lot, even if their parents never did.

Let’s look at a more malleable set and learn from our mistakes. Saw a whole bunch of elementary kids doing the wobble and cha-cha slide yesterday. Dollars to donuts the majority don’t know their multiplication tables, have poor reading comprehension skills and can’t put a complete sentence together orally or in writing.

Let’s use their ability to focus for long periods, attempt a task repeatedly until success is achieved and follow patterns to do something more than “shake it”.
BTW, for the few kids out there who are actually academically OK, you’re smart enough to know what I mean when I ask you to tone it down a bit (your time will come, if that’s what you really want to do). Just want the new studies to have better things to say in 4, 8 and 12 years.


September 16th, 2012
12:26 pm

Maybe Im a dinosaur, maybe even a criminal at this point, but my son knows consequences….its called the back of my hand or my belt, depending on the severity of the infraction. I dont believe the curent theory of self esteem is the most important thing. One can never underestimate the power of criticism. You just have to know how to temper it.

William Casey

September 16th, 2012
12:27 pm

We are reaping what we have sown. When schools began “do overs” (called “Recovery” in Fulton County) about 15 years ago, I realized that we were teaching students a bogus lesson: that you don’t have to TRY the first time. When we instituted the “lowest grade you can give is 50%” rule about ten years ago, we equated trying-but-not-quite-making-it with making NO EFFORT at all. When we gave in on allowing cell phones in class, we promoted self-absorption. And, we wonder why young adults don’t magically “get with it” when we go to college and/or get a job?

Teaching resposibility must begin early and parents have to get serious at about age 13-14. It starts with two simple questions posed to the child: (1) Do you know how much money it costs to live in this nice house, drive this nice car and watch this big screen TV? and, (2) Do you have any idea how difficult it is to make that much money? That’s how I began the conversation with my now 21-year-old son who’s a Senior Zell Miller Scholar in Mathematics. I’m pleased with the results


September 16th, 2012
1:03 pm

This issue is not a uniquely Georgian phenomenon, so enough with bringing our bizarre charter school issues into it.

The era of inflated accomplishment isn’t just within the home, it’s in the schools, the sports leagues, the arts performances, etc. where everyone makes it in the audition/tryout/game.


September 16th, 2012
1:05 pm

This generation will prove to be the most immature Generation that has been ever produced by a civilized Nation. One that will lack the personal maturity and self confidence to carry this Nation forward. We all had better hope that the Parents live to very ripe old age for theirs and their children’s sake.


September 16th, 2012
1:05 pm

A lot of criticism of parents here from many folks who likely have no idea what parents are faced with when trying to get a decent education for their children right now. It would help if you would instead focus your frustration on the school boards and those at the top for they are diverting your tax dollars right into their own pockets and doing nothing for the classrooms. Children are a reflection of what they see around them. That means all of us, parents and non-parents, politicians and business owners, teachers and television. They only know what we show them and they learn more from our actions than our words. If there is a problem, the attitudes they are giving us can only go to show you what type of world we are providing them right now. Look in the mirror first. Resolve to be better. Then, go out and set a good example and stop looking for where to lay the blame, there is plent to go around.


September 16th, 2012
1:25 pm

What a timely article. Over the past month, I have seen a few of my former students who have graduated. They have told me how difficult it has been for them to make the transition from high school to college. I even had one student tell me that we as teachers did not adequately prepare him for the rigors of college (I quickly reminded him that I tried but it is difficult teach a sleeping student). Needless to say many school grading policies are crippling students rather helping them and all in the name of self-esteem. Students at high schools are no longer given zeros; they have no consequences for late assignments; and they are permitted to retake exams. The article is not shocking to me; what is shocking is that it took so long for someone to finally bring this issue to forefront. It is no wonder that the Governor’s Office on Student Achievement shows that so many students not only lose HOPE after the first year but don’t even graduate.

Hey Teacher

September 16th, 2012
1:37 pm

@WC — Back when we had night school as a viable option, we routinely sent kids that direction if they had less than a 60 at the class-midpoint since it was obvious they weren’t going to pass. You could make up an entire course in six weeks of night school by attending class 4 nights a week. I find it interesting that the “recovery” policy went into affect about the same time other options for re-taking classes were cut.

On a different note, I was chastised by some people for putting my then-kindergartener on the bus on the second day of school (she’s too little I was told — even though only K-3rd rode her route) but those small steps towards independence (she picks out her own clothes and gets her backpack ready too) are so important. I had a 10th grader come to class the first day of school WITH HIS MOTHER and he was not even remotely embarrassed! I was not surprised when the first e mail I received this year was from that same kid.

A Teacher, 2

September 16th, 2012
1:41 pm

You know you have arrived when the students take one look at the test and ask when the re-test is going to be.

If you do as I do and make sure all grades reflect real learning, expect a lot of mad parents. I had one conference when a parent started crying when I would not raise the grade of 75 on a project. The student had made a major mistake, and I counted off 25 points. The parent started with “but everything else was correct!” Then, she said that her daughter had spent hours on the project, and “I bet no one else in the class spent more time on it!” Then she said that they had spent $30 on the materials, and they deserved a better grade because “no one else in the class spent more than than they did, and her project looked so much better than anyone else’s.” Of course, when I replied that I had no standards for how work looked and how much it cost to produce, she then started crying and said that I was just plain mean. The parent then proceeded to complain to the principal about literally everything I said and/or did for the rest of the year. To this day, the woman will not speak to me unless there are other people around to see her. I don’t really care what she thinks…..Her daughter still got the work wrong on the project.


September 16th, 2012
2:00 pm

@GTCO-ATL…sorry but parents are the first teachers and schools should only be responsible for the academics. I never expected the schools to teach them everything they need to know to become a contributing member of society. I think it is sad we have to teach character education in schools. How many times have you gone out to eat and children are literally running wild while totally oblivious parents are ignoring this behavior. I took my children out from a very young age to teach them proper behavior. I also wanted them to screw up and suffer consequences before they could be tried as an adult. It never occured to me that I should expect their school to provide all the answers. My children had to answer to me and I set the bar very high.

Apple Tree

September 16th, 2012
2:12 pm

If you read the comments on Maureen’s blog from parents, you’ll find that all of their children are gifted; all of them are college material (unlike the “others” who should, for their own good, be on a vocational track); all of them are earning the hardest and most sought after degrees; all of them could’ve gotten into any school they wanted but chose [insert middling in-state institution], because the Ivy League is overrated; all them have been offered starting salaries higher than the mid-career average in their field; and all of them are so, so well-adjusted and so, so successful due to how dynamically they were raised.

It’s not hard to understand why students these days are delusional.


September 16th, 2012
2:13 pm

Thanks: AlreadySheared — that’s what we keep hearing but in our profession – grades really mattered alot so it’s hard! One of the things that we’ve done as parents that really helped our guys be independent is a month of sleep away camp every summer from a pretty young age (oldest as a rising 6th grader, others from ages 7/8) — it forced them to be on their own, to share a cabin with 10 other boys and get along. It also brought them together as brothers. I highly recommend it.

On a completely different note — I’ve, personally, done al ot (more than any of you could possible begin to imagine) trying to get DCSS to put the money in the classroom and to try to get “authorities” to look at the money that has “walked” to places it should not have gone. I’ve taken things into my own hands with my own kids (again, I don’t think “helicoptering” as much as just paying attention) and finally pulled to a top private school for high school (and not soon enough for my oldest — he got left in public school until half way through high school… much too long) — the differences betweed “top private” and allegedly “top public” in Dekalb are quite astounding. My current senior received a B in 9th grade, my sophomore 2 Bs in 9th grade — both in honors and AP classes and both of them will be very ready for college — much more so than my 20 year old. No grade inflation going on in this high school and no artificial pumping of their self esteem — they are earning what they get. It’s actaully pretty fascinating to watch.

The real shame is that the amount of money being spent on “education” at the top private isn’t that different that what should be spent in public — okay — the private school can select their students and discipline isn’t as much of an issue — but the teachers at the private school all speak perfect English — no Eubonics, no foreign accents to wrestle with — most of them have PhDs and Masters — they all love their jobs — and, the kicker is that I think they get paid less than their public school counterparts …. They actaully, absolutely love the kids — the kids come first — the kids know that they come first — it’s tough love — the kids work their butts off — they know they have to — but the teachers are there for extra help and everything that is expected of them is perfectly clear and fair. The teachers have all the resourced they need — parents aren’t buying toilet paper and paper towels and markers for white boards. We buy books every year so teachers have absolute control over curriculum (this is a plus and a minus depending on how good the teacher is). The kids thrive. My senior recognizes this — as he remembers life in public school and still has good friends there — he can recount all the differences.


September 16th, 2012
2:33 pm

Hesiod, 8th c. BC, wrote: “Now truly is the Iron Age of man…The father will not agree with his children, nor the children with their father, nor guest with his host, nor comrade with comrade; nor will brother be dear to brother as aforetime. Men will dishonour their parents as they grow quickly old, and will carp at them, chiding them with bitter words, hard-hearted they, not knowing the fear of the gods. …

There will be no favour for the man who keeps his oath or for the just or for the good; but rather men will praise the evil-doer and his violent dealing. Strength will be right and reverence will cease to be; and the wicked will hurt the worthy man, speaking false words against him, and will swear an oath upon them. Envy, foul-mouthed, delighting in evil, with scowling face, will go along with wretched men one and all.”

Some things never change………

Ed Advocate

September 16th, 2012
2:43 pm

I haven’t read Mr. Levine’s book, so I can’t speak to it specifically. However, I’m always amused by studies of trends in younger generations which tend to show disengagement, ignorance, or other undesirable traits. It seems to me that a universal truth is that every generation always shakes its collective head at the upcoming one and frets. I call it the “kids these days!” phenomenon. Chances are, everything’s going to work out just fine with the millenials, but all of us have a responsibility to pitch in to ensure we’re leaving the kind of legacy our respective generation can be proud of.


September 16th, 2012
4:14 pm

I don’t doubt that this phenomenon exists, or that it is prevalent. I just want to point out that it is far from universal. My own children, who are now in grad school and college, were of the work hard to maintain a high GPA, take as many AP classes as possible variety. Even if I had wanted to, I could not have gotten 4’s and 5’s on AP exams for them. At the magnet school where I teach, students are inventing, researching, and striving daily. On the other hand, I teach ESOL students. These students will not be taking AP classes and most will not be going to college, but they certainly know how to work, and they know they better work to survive. I have one student who works every day from 4:30 to midnight, but he is at school every day just trying to get a high school diploma.
I think if we go back to the beginning of time, we will find the older generation moaning about how lazy and adrift the younger generation is.


September 16th, 2012
4:26 pm

Kids these days!!!

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

- Attributed throughout history to Socrates


September 16th, 2012
4:32 pm

How does an Engineer design a boat or a bridge? Only to sail in calm oceans or seas and only to carry a car or truck now and then. No, No, No; They design them to withstand the stormy seas and high heavy loaded traffic. We do not teach our kids that the winds of life are strong and we do not teach critical thinking anymore. We all want “Easy Street”. Life is tough and we need to prepare them for this.

Pride and Joy

September 16th, 2012
5:15 pm

I disagree with the premise that in this generation, everyone wins a trophy. It just isn’t the case. We have gifted, special needs and regular classes. If everyone wins a trophy, everyone would be in the gifted class.
Not everyone makes the cheerleading squad nor is everyone quarterback.
There is also no contradiction in viewing oneself as a global citizen and at the same time being unaware of the name of a foreign nation’s President. Being a global citizen or thinking of oneself that way is saying “god bless everyone” not just “god bless the usa.”
It’s a common occurrence for the older generation to beat up on and criticize the generation after it. Those laments about the younger generation being lazy and no good have been recorded for 2,000 years.
If kids are victims of grade inflation it’s not their fault — it’s yours. You are the generation dishing out the inflated grades and coddling them. So who deserves the kick in the shins?
The older generation.


September 16th, 2012
6:01 pm

@Pride and Joy, you must have missed the memo about many high schools doing away with class rankings and valedictorians. And for the record, as a single mother I could not be a coddler. I had to tell my boys to man up and they did.

Sandy Springs Parent

September 16th, 2012
6:14 pm

@ AnonMom, I am a Proud Purdue Engineer. Who has been a manager and supervisor of Engineers and Architect. Your son has already done the best thing to get himself hired, not gone to Ga. Tech. Alot of companies in Atlanta do not hire Ga tech engineers as they tend to lack practical knowledge. I had a staff of Engineers and Architects from a wide Variety of Schools. For the most part all were from schools that were in top 20 rankings for their school.

Real Engineers and Architects realize that these are tough majors. I was the President of the Tau Beta Pi, engineering Honor Society at my Undergraduate School. I graduated from Architecture School with a 3.3 GPA and that was the 5 th highest GPA in my entire Graduating Class. I beleive to get into Tau Beta Pi. you had to be in the top 1/8 of your class Junior year and then the top 20% your senior year. I received a full academic scholarship for my Engineering degree to Purdue by Graduating 5th with a 3.3, 30 years ago in 1982. Then I will tell you if you ever thought that undergraduate classes in Architecture or Engineering are hard, well in Graduate school they are harder ( First time in my life I actuallly really really had to study) I graduated with my M.S. with a 5.1/6.0 scale or a 3.1. They simply do not give out A’s in Engineering School.

When hiring an Engineer, I really would never look to hire a 4.0 engineer. I remember that one company that I worked for hired a 4.0 East Indian Engineer grad. from MIT. The guy was a complete flop for the type of Engineering we did. The owner of the company would go around and introduce his 4.0 MIT GRAD. but this guy had zero communication skills. That is the biggest problem when hiring engineers is finding a well rounded person. Someone who can communicate. I have had two brillant Electrical Engineers, that hated each other and didn’t want to communicate with each other. I had to sit them down in my office and show them that they were both saying the same thing and they really agreed with each other. We all worked as a team, they needed to get along and work as a team. They could go home and complain about each other to their respective spouses but it would stop in the offices. The same with Mechanical Engineers, they could not break it down in layman’s terms, they could not make a presentation to the customers or higher ups.

Senior year should allow your son, to take some Engineering Managemant Classes or Engineering Law Classes, or Accounting and Finances classes even at the Graduate level. These are classes that he should be able to get A’s in. They will also show that he is a well rounded Engineer. Someone that is more than caculating thermodynamics, etc. Also, showing on his resume, that he has done more than Sat in his room and Studied will be good. If he gets an Invitation to join Tau Beta Pi, as a Senior, he should jump on it. Which he still might even with a 2.5. His resume should clearly list any internships, summer jobs even if they don’t relate to engineering. Volunteering, tutoring that he has done, Community Service. I was a foriegn exchange student 34 years ago, that is still on my resume. ( Ask Maureen for my e-mail, I would be glad to mentor him). Tell him to utilize his University’s Career Services Department. I was recruited out of Indiana to Atlanta 29 years ago during the recession in 1983. A Mechanical Engineering Degree is a good degree to have. Also look beyond the obvious places to obtain a job. The perfect job is not always the first one out of school.

Pride and Joy

September 16th, 2012
6:24 pm

Reality, every old generation complains about the younger generation. There’s nothing new. Same old song. And if the new generation is coddled whose fault is it? Who is raising them? The older generation. So if the younger generation is a bunch of lazy do-nothings, old folks have no one to blame but themselves.


September 16th, 2012
7:04 pm

“Driven by hunger, a fox tried to reach some grapes hanging high on the vine but was unable to, although he leaped with all his strength. As he went away, the fox remarked, ‘Oh, you aren’t even ripe yet! I don’t need any sour grapes.’ ”

The ranking of engineering colleges is of particular interest…..


September 16th, 2012
7:20 pm

Apple Tree @ 2:12 pm – LOL! I agree and Its Truly Amazing, This is everyday here. I have yet to see one that says, My child is a complete failure and oh how disappointed I am about that. Not ONE comment, in a year of observation.

These are truly the children the Lucky Gene Pool Club. Or so they think……..

Georgia coach

September 16th, 2012
7:37 pm

Good comments from @sandysprings parent. This is a coach from your past. Shoot me an email and tell me how the family is


September 16th, 2012
8:35 pm

I just got an e-mail from a parent telling me that I had to come up with a subject for the science fair project because the student is “too busy.”