By John Ployer
If you’re a new student to UPEI, congratulations! That means you’re an adult member of the most mocked generation in human history: millennials.
Every day millennials are bombarded with examples of our own deficiencies. Who’s aunt on Facebook hasn’t shared that 84% of Millennials can’t change a lightbulb? What about how much money we spend on avocados?
It may be fun for boomers and other youth-challenged individuals to make fun of the shocking gaps in our skill set, but under the snide comments and bad Facebook memes highlights a real and dangerous fact.
They’re sort of right.
Our understanding of basic life skills for independent adults is sorely lacking. Who knows how to file your own taxes? I don’t.
Is this really the life we took out $40,000 in student loans for?
The problem is that we’re screwed by an education system that expects our parents teach us those basic life skills, as well as ideas like religion and tradition. But our parents were too busy working and getting divorced to provide us what public education doesn’t.
This problem becomes perfectly clear when young adults, freshly 18, get to university and find themselves completely unprepared to handle living independently and working in classes where the teacher refuses to hold their hand.
Among the skills people our age noticeably lack include cooking, handwriting, budgeting, reading, and public speaking.
It isn’t just practical skills either, the average college student’s knowledge on history, religion, and the political process is extremely lacking.
The lack of understanding of religion is particularly concerning to me. Even though our generation is among the least-religious in human history, the fact that learners 18-22 or older do not understand the basics of common morality is a little concerning.
I believe that one cannot make a reasonable criticism of any society without first understanding that societies’ moral foundations.
It’s not only that young people are mentally unequipped to make the important decisions, we are also screwed by an economic establishment which has denied us the chance to get ahead financially as well.
Real wages have remained flat for decades, and the good-paying union jobs many boomers found themselves in are a dying breed. As the current corporate-bureaucratic workplace favours seniority, it’s no wonder that the wealth has remained at the top with the older, established boomer class.
With vacancy rates in Charlottetown sitting at a disgusting 0.2%, more of us are forced to remain at home. Combine this with the fact that millennials WANT to live in their parents’ home much longer than previous generations, society has created a generation of adult-child hybrids which are expected to provide for themselves but given no economic resources to meet their needs independently.
To supplement for our clear lack of adult-ness, the university has committed itself to becoming our parents. The growth of student services like counselling, financial services, career services, and medical services is a testament to the fact that students require much more help than parents did.
University is becoming just another layer of the public education system.
Business, Science, and Engineering students don’t learn enough critical thinking, Arts students don’t learn enough about the real world, and none of us are much better off than we were before.
So what’s the solution? Generational warfare? A ban on avocados? Honestly I don’t know the solution, the issue is massive. Maybe we need a curriculum which focuses on morality and logic as much as it does on arithmetic, maybe we could use work environments which focus on mentoring and merit rather than seniority too.
These would be good ideas to look into, but before we can find solutions, society as a whole must decide what they want millennials to be.
Do they want us to be young adults, or just old children?