The future generation of students: a brief observation

September 11, 2012

As we go into our third week of classes at the community college, I wanted to make an observation:  the future generation of educated students rocks!

I have seen students from many different races, religions, ages, and abilities begin their classes and research. 

Some students come from parents who have immigrated from other places and may be the first of their family to attend higher education.  They face English as a second language, yet they still are learning new things and willing to tackle subjects that even those of us who grew up here would find daunting.

Some students fall into the “non-traditional” category: perhaps a 40- or 50-something student who is working to gain additional skills or train for a brand-new career.  Sometimes these students are not even familiar with today’s brand of library resources: online catalogs, ebooks, electronic articles, and databases.  Yet they are not only willing to learn, but are excited and optimistic about the possibilities opened up to them.

Students are collaborating with each other more than ever, and willing to help each other and share their experiences.  I have seen a student sitting next to another student in the computer lab,  offering their help unsolicited in getting into a new computer program.  I also see lots of students doing group projects, enjoying the experiences, laughing a lot, but also respecting each other’s opinions and compromising to make the end product a truly group effort.

I have also seen the best of faculty–taking the time to get to know their students, and actively supporting them in their efforts to learn and grow.

What I am seeing if often opposite of what you hear anecdotally about the “next” generation–that they are superficial, or unengaged, or unwilling to work.  I see students who are smart, excited, willing to work, innovative, flexible, engaged, and great multi-taskers. 

I do think they expect good customer service from their faculty and librarians, and that they respect our generation when we endeavor to understand theirs.  I see students who can spot bullshit from a mile away, and are willing to call you on it.  I see students who expect the best from their faculty, their administration, and their fellow students.

It is so exciting to see a new group of students willing to be taught and willing to learn.  Seeing the “a-ha” moment and the smile on a student’s face when you help them is a feeling that cannot be duplicated.  Knowing that you have helped someone in their search for knowledge is a great feeling.  But an even better feeling is the one where you realize that, yes, the coming generation will be just fine.


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