Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today's College Student

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9780470376294: Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today's College Student
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Praise for Generation on a Tightrope

"Over the last four decades, Arthur Levine has become thepremier analyst of continuities and changes in the American collegestudent population. In this impressive and comprehensive volume,Levine and coauthor Diane R. Dean provide an authoritative andrichly textured picture of the much-discussed current generation."—Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition andEducation, Harvard Graduate School of Education

"Arthur Levine and Diane R. Dean take the long view of today'sgeneration of college students. This is a brilliant examination ofwhat has shaped our young people, what they are doing with thetools they have, and where they are headed. It is a diagnosis ofwhat ails them, a celebration of their strengths, and a compellingand generous prescription for their future—and ours."—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher UniversityProfessor, Harvard University

"Through this captivating portrait of the aspirations, values,and unique needs of today's college students, Levine and Dean'sclearly written and engaging book ought to generate a nationaldiscussion of how higher education can be restructured in order torespond to and prepare the next generation of college-educatedadults—not only for effective functioning in the workplace,but also to live lives as whole human beings who can help to leadour society to a healthier place." —Alexander W. Astinand Helen S. Astin, Distinguished Professors of HigherEducation emeriti, UCLA; authors, Cultivating the Spirit: HowHigher Education Can Enhance Students' Inner Lives

"I can't say enough about how important this work is. This bookis right on the mark for what needs to be known and understoodabout today's college students by those who are responsible foreducating 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 CollegeStudent is a must-read for college presidents, administrators, andprofessors as well as parents, employers, and governmentleaders—who all have a stake in student success. Understandingwho today's college students are is essential as we collaborativelydevelop and deliver the education that will prepare this generationto build our future." —Nancy L. Zimpher, chancellor,State University of New York

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Key Findings by Arthur Levine, author of Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today's College Student

    On the Recession
  • 48% of campuses report increases in the number of students temporarily dropping out for financial reasons
  • 67% report students are working longer hours for financial reasons
  • 48% report increases in the number of students living at home for financial reasons
  • 36% report students are taking fewer credits for financial reasons
  • 62% of college students say the recession affected where they went to college
  • 67% say the chief benefit of college is increased earning power versus 44% in 1976

    On Academics
  • 41% of undergraduates have average grades of A- or higher, versus 7% in 1969
  • 9% have grades of C or less versus 25% in 1969
  • 45% have taken remedial courses
  • 60% say their grades understate the true quality of their work

    On Sex and Dating
  • 47% of undergraduates say they have had a "hook up" or casual sex by the time they graduate
  • 70% of sexually active students report one partner in the past year (17% report three or more partners)
  • 39% of sexually active undergraduates report never or rarely using a condom
  • 37% of four-year colleges report increased interracial dating
  • 55% have experienced increases in Internet or e-mail stalking or harassment
  • 41% have experienced increases in cell-phone stalking or harassment

    On Social Media
  • On average, undergraduates have 241 social media friends (overwhelmingly on Facebook)
  • 45% of undergraduates trust the people they meet on Facebook
  • 74% would comfortable with their parents seeing their Facebook page
  • 62% would be comfortable with an employer seeing their Facebook page
  • A plurality say the establishment of the World Wide Web is the key event in their lives, versus the 29% who cite the September 11 attack and its aftermath

    On Parents
  • 41% of undergraduates text, email, call or visit their parents at least daily (19% three times a day or more)
  • 27% of undergraduates asked parents to intervene in problems with professors or employers
  • 76% of colleges and universities report increases in parent involvement and intervention

    On Politics and Activism
  • 68% of students are not politically active or engaged
  • 83% believe meaningful social change cannot be achieved through the traditional American politics
  • 65% were engaged in service activities in the past 12 months

    On the Future
  • 89% of undergraduates are optimistic about their personal futures
  • 35% are optimistic about the future of the country
  • 73% expect to be at least as well off as their parents
  • 79% do not expect social security to be available when they retire

From the Inside Flap:

Today's college students feel as if they are crossing an abyssbetween their dreams and the reality of an uncertain future. Theyare a generation seeking stability in a time of profound andaccelerating change. They want government and our other socialinstitutions to work in a time when they're broken; they cling tothe American Dream in an age of diminished expectations. They arewalking a tightrope, attempting to balance digital connectednessand personal isolation, global citizenship and local vision,commonality and difference in the most diverse generation inAmerican history, and a desire to be treated as mature adults whilebeing more dependent on their parents than previous collegestudents. Generation on a Tightrope offers a compelling portrait oftoday's undergraduate college students that sheds light on theirattributes, expectations, aspirations, academics, attitudes,values, beliefs, social lives, and politics. Based on research of5,000 college students and student affairs practitioners from 270diverse college campuses, the book explores the similarities anddifferences between today's generation of students and previousgenerations. The authors examine the myriad forces that have shapedthese students and will continue to shape them as they prepare tomeet the future.

The first two volumes in this series exploring the psyche ofcollege students, When Dreams and Heroes Died (1980) and When Hopeand Fear Collide (1998), offered thoughtful and accurate profilesof the students of the 1980s and 1990s. As Generation on aTightrope clearly reveals, today's students need a very differenteducation than the undergraduates who came before them: aneducation for the 21st Century, which colleges and universities areill-equipped to offer and which will require major changes of themto provide.

Painting a realistic picture of today's college students, theauthors offer guidance to higher education professionals,researchers, practitioners, policymakers, employers, parents, andthe public. The book's insights can help them equip students forthe world they face and the world they will help to create.

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