Synopses & Reviews
Praise for Generation on a Tightrope
"Over the last four decades, Arthur Levine has become the premier analyst of continuities and changes in the American college student population. In this impressive and comprehensive volume, Levine and coauthor Diane R. Dean provide an authoritative and richly textured picture of the much-discussed current generation." Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
"Arthur Levine and Diane R. Dean take the long view of today's generation of college students. This is a brilliant examination of what has shaped our young people, what they are doing with the tools they have, and where they are headed. It is a diagnosis of what ails them, a celebration of their strengths, and a compelling and generous prescription for their futureand ours." Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University
"Through this captivating portrait of the aspirations, values, and unique needs of today's college students, Levine and Dean's clearly written and engaging book ought to generate a national discussion of how higher education can be restructured in order to respond to and prepare the next generation of college-educated adultsnot only for effective functioning in the workplace, but also to live lives as whole human beings who can help to lead our society to a healthier place." Alexander W. Astin and Helen S. Astin, Distinguished Professors of Higher Education emeriti, UCLA; authors, Cultivating the Spirit: How Higher Education Can Enhance Students' Inner Lives
"I can't say enough about how important this work is. This book is right on the mark for what needs to be known and understood about today's college students by those who are responsible for educating the future leaders and citizens of the world." Gwen Dungy, executive director, emeritus, NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education
"Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today's College Student is a must-read for college presidents, administrators, and professors as well as parents, employers, and government leaderswho all have a stake in student success. Understanding who today's college students are is essential as we collaboratively develop and deliver the education that will prepare this generation to build our future." Nancy L. Zimpher, chancellor, State University of New York
An understanding of today's college students is vital to the effectiveness of our nation's colleges and universities. The third in a series on college student expectations, aspirations, academics, attitudes, values, beliefs, social life and politics, this book presents an accurate portrait of today's undergraduate college students. Covering the main topic areas of the two previous works, it also contains new chapters and makes comparisons across generations. Timely and comprehensive, this volume gives researchers, practitioners, and policymakers a much-needed grasp of the forces shaping the experiences of current undergraduates.
An understanding of today’s undergraduate college students is vital to the effectiveness of our nation’s colleges and universities. As Generation on a Tightrope
clearly reveals, today’s students need a very different education than the undergraduates who came before them: an education for the 21st Century, which colleges and universities are so far ill-equipped to offer and which will require major changes of them to provide. Examining college student expectations, aspirations, academics, attitudes, values, beliefs, social life, and politics, this book paints an accurate portrait of today’s students. Timely and comprehensive, this volume offers educators, researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and employers guidance and a much-needed grasp of the forces shaping the experiences of current undergraduates. The book:
- Is based on completely new research of 5,000 college students and student affairs practitioners from 270 diverse college campuses
- Explores the similarities and differences between today’s generation of students and previous generations
Today's college students feel as if they are crossing an abyss between their dreams and the reality of an uncertain future. They are a generation seeking stability in a time of profound and accelerating change. They want government and our other social institutions to work in a time when they're broken; they cling to the American Dream in an age of diminished expectations. They are walking a tightrope, attempting to balance digital connectedness and personal isolation, global citizenship and local vision, commonality and difference in the most diverse generation in American history, and a desire to be treated as mature adults while being more dependent on their parents than previous college students. Generation on a Tightrope offers a compelling portrait of today's undergraduate college students that sheds light on their attributes, expectations, aspirations, academics, attitudes, values, beliefs, social lives, and politics. Based on research of 5,000 college students and student affairs practitioners from 270 diverse college campuses, the book explores the similarities and differences between today's generation of students and previous generations. The authors examine the myriad forces that have shaped these students and will continue to shape them as they prepare to meet the future.
The first two volumes in this series exploring the psyche of college students, When Dreams and Heroes Died (1980) and When Hope and Fear Collide (1998), offered thoughtful and accurate profiles of the students of the 1980s and 1990s. As Generation on a Tightrope clearly reveals, today's students need a very different education than the undergraduates who came before them: an education for the 21st Century, which colleges and universities are ill-equipped to offer and which will require major changes of them to provide.
Painting a realistic picture of today's college students, the authors offer guidance to higher education professionals, researchers, practitioners, policymakers, employers, parents, and the public. The book's insights can help them equip students for the world they face and the world they will help to create.
About the Author
is president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Previously, he was president and professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Diane R. Dean is associate professor of higher education policy and administration at Illinois State University.
Table of Contents
The Authors xxiii
Chapter 1: The Past Is a Foreign Country 11
Chapter 2: Academics: The Internet and the Blackboard 37
Chapter 3: Life Outside the Classroom: The New Tribalism 53
Chapter 4: Parents: Helicopters, Lawnmowers, and Stealth Bombers 79
Chapter 5: Multiculturalism: The Demographics of Comfort 95
Chapter 6: Politics: Talking Global, Acting Local 117
Chapter 7: The Future: Clinging to the American Dream 147
Chapter 8: Conclusion: The Future Is a Foreign Country 155
Appendix A: The Life and Times of the Class of 2012: A Chronology 199
Appendix B: Studies Used in This Book 205
Appendix C: Campus Contacts 209
We dedicate this book to our spouses, Linda Fentiman and John Giglio, both educators, and to our children, Jamie Levine, who is teaching today’s college students; Rachel Levine, who graduated from college in 2010 and is one of the people we are writing about; and Andy and Katy Giglio, who are the college students of the future. We love you very much.