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Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today's College Student

ISBN: 978-1-118-23383-2
256 pages
July 2012, Jossey-Bass
Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today

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Praise for Generation on a Tightrope

"Over the last four decades, Arthur Levine has become the premier analyst of continuities and changes in the American college student population. In this impressive and comprehensive volume, Levine and coauthor Diane R. Dean provide an authoritative and richly textured picture of the much-discussed current generation." —Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

"Arthur Levine and Diane R. Dean take the long view of today's generation of college students. This is a brilliant examination of what has shaped our young people, what they are doing with the tools they have, and where they are headed. It is a diagnosis of what ails them, a celebration of their strengths, and a compelling and generous prescription for their future—and ours." —Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

"Through this captivating portrait of the aspirations, values, and unique needs of today's college students, Levine and Dean's clearly written and engaging book ought to generate a national discussion of how higher education can be restructured in order to respond to and prepare the next generation of college-educated adults—not only for effective functioning in the workplace, but also to live lives as whole human beings who can help to lead our society to a healthier place." —Alexander W. Astin and Helen S. Astin, Distinguished Professors of Higher Education emeriti, UCLA; authors, Cultivating the Spirit: How Higher Education Can Enhance Students' Inner Lives

"I can't say enough about how important this work is. This book is right on the mark for what needs to be known and understood about today's college students by those who are responsible for educating the future leaders and citizens of the world." —Gwen Dungy, executive director, emeritus, NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education

"Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today's College Student is a must-read for college presidents, administrators, and professors as well as parents, employers, and government leaders—who all have a stake in student success. Understanding who today's college students are is essential as we collaboratively develop and deliver the education that will prepare this generation to build our future." —Nancy L. Zimpher, chancellor, State University of New York

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xix

The Authors xxiii

Introduction 1

Chapter 1: The Past Is a Foreign Country 11

Chapter 2: Academics: The Internet and the Blackboard 37

Chapter 3: Life Outside the Classroom: The New Tribalism 53

Chapter 4: Parents: Helicopters, Lawnmowers, and Stealth Bombers 79

Chapter 5: Multiculturalism: The Demographics of Comfort 95

Chapter 6: Politics: Talking Global, Acting Local 117

Chapter 7: The Future: Clinging to the American Dream 147

Chapter 8: Conclusion: The Future Is a Foreign Country 155

Appendix A: The Life and Times of the Class of 2012: A Chronology 199

Appendix B: Studies Used in This Book 205

Appendix C: Campus Contacts 209

References 213

Index 219

We dedicate this book to our spouses, Linda Fentiman and John Giglio, both educators, and to our children, Jamie Levine, who is teaching today’s college students; Rachel Levine, who graduated from college in 2010 and is one of the people we are writing about; and Andy and Katy Giglio, who are the college students of the future. We love you very much.

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Author Information

Arthur Levine is president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Previously, he was president and professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Diane R. Dean is associate professor of higher education policy and administration at Illinois State University.

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Reviews

“Over the last four decades, Arthur Levine has become the premier analyst of continuities and changes in the American college student population. In this impressive and comprehensive volume, Levine and coauthor Diane Dean provide an authoritative and richly textured picture of the much-discussed current generation.” —Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

“Arthur Levine and Diane R. Dean take the long view of today’s generation of college students. This is a brilliant examination of what has shaped our young people, what they are doing with the tools they have, and where they are headed. It is a diagnosis of what ails them, a celebration of their strengths, and a compelling and generous prescription for their future—and ours.” —Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

“Through this captivating portrait of the aspirations, values, and unique needs of today’s college students, Levine and Dean’s clearly written and engaging book ought to generate a national discussion of how higher education can be restructured in order to respond to and prepare the next generation of college-educated adults—not only for effective functioning in the workplace, but also to live lives as whole human beings who can help to lead our society to a healthier place.” —Alexander W. Astin and Helen S. Astin, distinguished professors of higher education emeriti, UCLA, and authors, Cultivating the Spirit: How Higher Education can Enhance Students’ Inner Lives

“I can’t say enough about how important this work is. This book is right on the mark for what needs to be known and understood about today’s college students by those who are responsible for educating the future leaders and citizens of the world.” —Gwen Dungy, Executive Director, Emeritus, NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education

Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today’s College Student is a must-read for college presidents, administrators, and professors as well as parents, employers, and government leaders—who all have a stake in student success. Understanding who today’s college students are is essential as we collaboratively develop and deliver the education that will prepare this generation to build our future.” —Nancy L. Zimpher, Chancellor, State University of New York
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