A notable research psychologist took to the cyberpages of PBS NewsHour this week to declare that America’s college students have become delicate, traumatized wusses who get the vapors in the face of routine life challenges because of student loan debt, because unemployment for college grads is 7.2 percent and because minority students poor students face “injustice and significant life challenges” before arriving on campus.
Also, college students today are very afraid to fail because they think failure is really bad.
The author of the hard-hitting essay is Denise Cummins, who describes herself as a “research psychologist, author, blogger” and — of course — an “equine professional.”
Cummins begins by citing a 2015 essay by another psychologist, Peter Gray of Boston College.
Gray observed that today’s crop of college students is less able to handle ordinary life challenges compared to generations past. He noted, for example, that emergency calls to the Boston College counseling center have doubled in recent years. One woman sought counseling because her roommate called her a “bitch.” Two students wanted professional therapy — and actually called the cops — because they spotted a mouse in their off-campus apartment. (RELATED: PROOF: Helicopter Parenting Has Created A Generation Of Traumatized, Risk-Averse WUSSES)
Gray also explained that Boston College professors 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 observed. 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 clarifying grading criteria.
While Gray blames a generation of helicopter parenting for the national pantywaist crisis currently besetting America’s college campuses, Cummins — writing at PBS NewsHour — disagrees.
Ignoring the Great Depression, for example, and the economic malaise of the 1970s, Cummins proclaims that today’s college students — and their parents — believe the current economy is “far more competitive and less forgiving than the world of their parents or grandparents, a world in which failure is not an option.”
Cummins observes that student-loan debt is a persistent and growing problem. (RELATED: America’s Student Debt Is More Than COMBINED GDP Of Denmark, Greece, Chile and Israel)
“The average Class of 2016 graduate is estimated to have over $37,000 in student loan debt, up 6 percent from last year,” Cummins says.
“A major reason why students struggle to pay off their loans is that the degrees they worked so hard to earn are not guaranteed to land them jobs.”
Cummins does not indicate if those degrees are psychology and women’s studies or, say, engineering.
In any case, Cummins cites statistics showing that 7.2 percent of America’s newer college graduates are unemployed and 14.9 percent of them are defined as underemployed.
Cummins also alleges that today’s college students are traumatized wusses because they are “more socioeconomically and ethnically diverse than they were in the past.” “Elite colleges now have students who have faced more injustice and significant life challenges — economic and otherwise — in their 18 years than most college professors have in their entire lives.”
This past trauma leads minority students and poor kids to seek “safe spaces” because the students are “expressing the pain and frustration that arises from feeling constantly marginalized and treated as though they are inferior and don’t belong,” Cummins charges.
“In short,” Cummins concludes, “college students today perhaps are not less resilient than students of the past. Perhaps they are instead showing the strain that comes from grappling with serious threats and challenges that their predecessors did not face.”