In 2000, Millennials were an upbeat, engaged generation of talented young people who would lead the country into a leaner, greener, better future one instant message at a time. By 2009 we'd somehow morphed into, "a generation of hot-house flowers puffed with a disproportionate sense of self-worth". Must've been something we tweeted. In less than a decade, Millennials went from bright hopes to great disappointments as Zuckerberg, Wales, and Page left us entitled, needy, and "without the resiliency skills they need when Mommy and Daddy can't fix something". With books like, Generation Me or The Narcissism Epidemic, odiously expounding our, "sense of entitlement" adding to the criticism, almost no one really asks: are Millennials really that self-absorbed?
Sure, advances in computing and the internet birthed a myriad of technological luxuries, but it's taken the world out of the buggy and into the bullet train, leaving behind anyone who can't keep pace. Millennials live in a world with the Internet giving corporate grade software away for free, a labor force flush with advanced degrees and where the wrong status update can leave you unemployed. On the other hand, Generation X not only lived through the greatest period of economic growth and prosperity, but was also the first beneficiary of civil rights reforms won by its Baby Boomer parents. So it's time to set the record straight, and find out whose generation really is entitled.
It's a well-known fact that having some form of postsecondary education is vital for one's future job prospects and financial security. Historically, degree holders get better jobs, and receive higher salaries than those that don't. Data from the Integrated Postsecondary Eduation Data System (IPEDS) shows that this fact isn't lost on Millennials; 129,950,543 were enrolled in a degree-granting institution between 2002 and 2009, about 18,564,363 people a year. However, the fact that the cost of attendance at public and private institutions rises with each entering class is no small matter and these costs make completing 2 or 4 years of coursework no easy task.
Numbers from the National Center For Education Statistics (NCES) show that since 1980 (the beginning of the millennial period) attendance costs for 4-year programs at degree-granting institutions increased 631.38 percent, while costs for 2-year programs rose 399.51 percent. If that's not enough the same database also provided specifics on current annual costs for 2 and 4 year programs at public and private institutions.
- For public insitutions: $8,085.00 (2yr) / $15,918.00 (4yr)
- For private institutions: $23,871.00 (2yr) / $32,617.00 (4yr)
How do these figures compare to their 1980 levels? In current dollars costs at public institutions are 398.87 percent and 624.24 percent higher for 2 and 4 year programs respectively. In private institutions, including both non-profit and for profit schools, costs went up 554.75 percent for 2 year programs and 583.07 percent for 4 year programs.