Millenials on Campus: Using the Traits of a Generation to Improve Higher Education

Millenials on Campus: Using the Traits of a Generation to Improve Higher Education

Author: 
Stephanie Kidd
Program of study: 
Ph.D./HEA
Abstract: 
With the release of their book Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation, Neil Howe and William Strauss defined a new generation of Americans with a combination of traits that set them apart from previous generations. Defined as special, sheltered, self-confident, pressured, achieving, conventional, and team-oriented, the Millennial Generation entered the collegiate environment starting in 1999, and higher education faculty and administrators must acknowledge a crucial need to understand strategies to support success in the classroom using the learner’s new cultural characteristics. This phenomenological qualitative study was conducted to gather the lived experiences of 12 Millennial college learners from a small proprietary college in the Midwest, and use the themes that emerged from that research to create suggestions for changes to the current American collegiate system. Themes from this research include: (a) Millennials are special to their parents; (b) Millennials have self-confidence; (c) Millennials are pressured to achieve; and (d) Millennials are impacted by technology.
Dedication: 
I have had the pleasure of working in education for most of my adult life. Teaching, coaching, and dreaming with young people is something I think I will always do. This dissertation is for those young people who impacted my life so deeply with their laughter and tears, their struggles and dreams, their successes and failures. I spoke with dozens of college students about their experience in higher education, and each one opened up and shared stories with me that helped me to gain insight into what it is like to be a young person in college today. This study is dedicated to all of those students, young and old, who helped me to better understand the college student of today. I hope that this research can help to make their higher education experience even better.
Acknowledgements: 
My dissertation committee and my dissertation chair have been a great support throughout this process. They have coached and mentored me, and helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to my committee members, Elizabeth Johnston, Ed.D. and Mark Johnson, Ph.D., and a special thanks to my dissertation chair Ronald Hutkin, Ph.D., who stepped up at the last minute to take over as committee chair. Dr. Hutkin was patient and friendly, and always willing to read and re-read the same chapters. I know I can be a handful, and these folks were willing to push me along so that I could find success at the end of my journey. I would like to extend a sincere and very heart-felt thanks to my original committee chair Dr. Ron Black, who supported me throughout this journey until he resigned from the University. Without his encouragement, this dissertation might still be an idea. From patting me on the back to pushing me along to listening to me cry tears of frustration, Dr. Black was a true mentor and friend throughout this process, and I am so grateful for his support. Thanks, too, to the brave students who allowed me to interview them and were willing to share their very personal stories with me. I know the questions I asked often led to memories of childhood struggles and personal family issues, and I am so pleased that these 12 students were willing to include me in on their collegiate adventures. Throughout this process, my family was a grounding force for me. The doctoral road is a long one, with numerous stops along the way. To my mother and father, my sisters, and my grandmother: thank you for your love and support while I made this dream come true.