America’s college students are delicate, immature wusses who become traumatized, get the vapors and seek professional counseling any time they face adversity or — God forbid — earn a grade lower than a “B.”
The insight comes from Boston College research professor Peter Gray, writing last week at Psychology Today.
Gray explains that he has participated in discussions at Boston College with the head of counseling services and other faculty members about how to deal with a notable decrease in resilience among students.
The problem of weak-willed, fragile, gutless students at the $63,302-per-year Jesuit school has been severe, Gray learned.
In the last five years, for example, emergency calls to the counseling center have doubled. The reasons for the urgent calls are sometimes frivolous and stupid. One woman sought counseling, Gray said, because her roommate called her a “bitch.” Not one but two students wanted professional therapy because they spotted a mouse in their off-campus apartment. The same pair of students also actually called the cops about the rodent. The cops responded and installed a mousetrap.
The Daily Caller is not making this up.
Professors at Boston College say they receive a constant stream of email from students about trivial issues. The students expect prompt, quality customer service in response. Professors have also seen huge uptick in students who freak out when they earn low grades. Students equate grades of “C” or lower — and sometimes even any “B” — with failure. And “failure” means total failure, Gray explains. Like an apocalypse. Students don’t think to study harder. Instead, they beg for higher grades or paper do-overs. They yell at their professors for not making the grading criteria clear enough.
It’s gotten so bad, Gray says, that many professors — particularly young ones — are hesitant to give students the bad grades they deserve out of fear that students will give them a scathing rating or have some emotional meltdown during office hours. Professors seriously worry that a bad grade could even lead to a student suicide.
“Our students are no different from what is being reported across the country on the state of late adolescence/early adulthood,” the head of counseling at Boston College wrote in an email to the group of faculty members discussing resilience. “There has been an increase in diagnosable mental health problems, but there has also been a decrease in the ability of many young people to manage the everyday bumps in the road of life.”
“Students are afraid to fail; they do not take risks,” the counseling chief also wrote. “External measures of success are more important than learning and autonomous development.”
Gray blames a generation of helicopter parenting for the national pantywaist crisis currently besetting America’s college campuses.
“Families often expect campuses to provide immediate, sophisticated, and sustained mental-health care,” Gray quotes an August article in The Chronicle of Higher Education as saying. “After all, most parents are still adjusting to the idea that their children no longer come home every night, and many want colleges to keep an eye on their kids, just as they did. Students, too, want colleges to give them the help they need, when they need it. And they need a lot. Rates of anxiety and depression among American college students have soared in the last decade, and many more students than in the past come to campus already on medication for such illnesses.”
Some students do, in fact, suffer from serious mental problems. However, the overwhelming majority are just dealing with “the usual stresses of college life: bad grades, breakups, being on their own for the first time.”
According to Gray, students can’t cope with these experiences because their helicopter parents prevented them from developing any coping ability. As children, these now-college-aged adults had little chance “to play, explore, and pursue their own interests away from adults.” They have never had responsibility. Their parents solved their problems for them. They have never had to dig deep and persevere. They can’t solve any of their own problems because they have no experience at solving their own problems.
“They have not been given the opportunity to get into trouble and find their own way out, to experience failure and realize they can survive it, to be called bad names by others and learn how to respond without adult intervention.”
Gray is not the first professor to observe the damage which over-controlling “helicopter” parents have wrought in American society. In 2013, a researcher at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia released a study demonstrating that parents negatively affect college students. (RELATED: Over-Controlling Parents Make College-Aged Children Depressed, Study Shows)
In a nutshell, the study reached the same conclusion Gray at Boston College has reached. Students can’t be autonomous — and never learned to be autonomous — with control-minded parents contacting tutors, making schedules and generally hovering at every turn. These students cannot learn from their own mistakes and are more likely to be depressed and less satisfied with their lives, the study found.