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Are Today’s College Students Too Needy?


Are Today’s College Students Too Needy?

April V. Taylor

Boston College research professor Dr. Peter Gray recently wrote an article for Psychology Today in which he highlighted how needy today’s college students are and how college’s are struggling to address the declining resilience among their student populations.

Just a couple of examples of the neediness include a student who called Counseling Services because she felt traumatized over her roommate calling her a bi— and two students who called police because they saw a mouse in their off-campus apartment.  These are just two examples of how students appear to be having emotional crises over what could be considered events that are part of everyday life.

The emotional fragility that keeps students from being able to handle everyday life also extends into them being able to handle receiving low grades, so much so that some faculty are scared to give out low grades because they do not want to have to deal with a cascade of emotional crises as a result.  Faculty also report that students have an inability to accept responsibility for receiving low grades, choosing instead to blame faculty rather than study or work harder.

The head of Counseling at Boston College summed up the condition of the country’s college students by stating, “I have done a considerable amount of reading and research in recent months on the topic of resilience in college students. Our students are no different from what is being reported across the country on the state of late adolescence/early adulthood. There has been an increase in diagnosable mental health problems, but there has also been a decrease in the ability of many young people to manage the everyday bumps in the road of life. Whether we want it or not, these students are bringing their struggles to their teachers and others on campus who deal with students on a day-to-day basis. The lack of resilience is interfering with the academic mission of the University and is thwarting the emotional and personal development of students.”

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Colleges are now expected to provide intensive mental health care and to serve as substitute parents in ways that previous generations did not need. There are more students dealing with depression and anxiety as well as more serious issues such as psychosis.

While there appear to be no easy solutions, what seems obvious is that children need more opportunity to practice being adults without adult intervention, so that when they reach college, they have the ability to function without constantly having to rely on adults to deal with normal, everyday events.


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  1. MaryAnn

    September 26, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    I am a returning student who retired 5 years ago. I also struggle with student fragility. I find some truth in this article. I attended college during high school and after high school graduation. I also attended sporadically over the years without completion. I a am studious and seek help when warranted to complete my studies. I find that my campus is very student oriented and try to make college adjustment very easy for all ages. I am in class with dual high schoolers and college students who have not made the adjustment to adulthood/collegehood. Perhaps there should be a mandatory seminar and/or counselor assigned to assist those in this category that need help. I want to try to help and share my words of wisdom but I fear that I may have a confrontation with the persons/children who are immature and can hear help because it sounds like criticism. They use their phones and electronics during instructional times that prevent the instructor and other students of precious learning time. I think that this situation is a call to institute more solutions and coordination with high school and parents. I don’t think the alarmed needs to be sounded. However, more attention needs given to helping students rather than seeing them as too needy or not deserving of help.

    • Francine Hawkins

      October 1, 2015 at 6:02 pm

      I think it starts at home, why aren’t these students capable of handling situations on their own or trying to come up with solutions independently? I believe too much coddling is the culprit, parents aren’t instilling responsibility to their children, I could go on & on. If teaching a teenager how to adapt in real life situations became a more commonplace action when away from constant adult supervision the young adults would be better off in handling themselves.

  2. William Scales

    September 29, 2015 at 7:28 am

    Why can’t we accept the fact that parents in this generation have not disciplined and parented their children. Parents have befriended and rewarded students for doing little to nothing. As a result we have a bunch of young adults who are not emotionally discipline which means they are emotionally immature. In their immaturity we expect them to handle this ever-changing ( not necessarily for the better ) world. A world ever growing in technological communication devices while these devices are actually distancing one another from real human to human communication . In many households today you can’t tell who’s in charge based on the behavioral roles within the family structure. Animals now operate in more defined family structure and roles that humans. If a lion refused to train and prepare her cubs to hunt in the wild but instead rewarded disorder in fear of the cubs feelings, when that cub grows up it would be dysfunctional and traumatized by the world around it. These kinds of issues occur in far more areas than college campuses and can be resolved by one thing. Parents assuming the role of parent and their place of authority in the household, and raising and parenting their children with dignity without the fear of outside influence, or the fear that their children won’t feel just right in this feelings motivated generation.

    • Francine Hawkins

      October 1, 2015 at 6:03 pm

      I totally agree with your post

    • Cynthia D Mcfadden

      October 3, 2015 at 8:50 am

      I have to çommend your posting I thought I was the only one that compared us to animals in reference to behavior it is not looking good for humans right now there are no limitations in behavior, integrity or morals.

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