The Class of 2006: Who are the new
generation is shaped by the events and society they emerge from. We examine
the incoming class to get a peek into our own future.
By Rick Waters '95
1984. Apple Computer unveils the Macintosh, the Soviets boycott the Summer
Games and Ronald Reagan is on his way to a landslide re-election. First-class
stamps are 20 cents. Michael Jordan is a rookie in the NBA. Michael Jackson
is debuting the moonwalk at the Grammys.
and "Footloose" rock the radio air waves, while movie blockbusters
introduce us to Gremlins and Ghostbusters. On the tube, we stay up at
night watching Family Ties and Dynasty, but when we can't, we use a new
gadget called a VCR to tape them, which is not a violation of copyright
law, the Supreme Court just ruled.
world in which the Class of 2006 -- this fall's entering freshmen -- arrived.
For them, there has always been MTV, women have always traveled in space,
and the Vietnam War seems as ancient history as the Civil War.
the Millennial Generation: the "Baby on Board" toddlers, the
"Have you hugged your child today?" pre-teens and the high schoolers
of the Columbine massacre and 9-11 attacks. This year, they come to college.
have already sampled alcohol and some have tried sex, they are, as a group,
unlike any generation in recent memory. They are more numerous, more affluent,
better educated and more ethnically diverse. And there is growing optimism
that this group will display more positive social habits than older Americans
typically associate with youth, including a new focus on teamwork, achievement,
responsible behavior and social awareness. Still, some find them sheltered,
spoiled, reckless and self-absorbed.
they, really? Read on and learn about them through excerpts from their
application essays and creative pages, and the observations of those who
have already met them.
Class of 2006 is connected.
have grown up with my hero and inspiration by my side for 17 years. ...
My dad has special qualities that I looked up to forever and admire with
all my heart. ... I cannot remember one tryout, recital, competition,
camp, important practice, game or uniform fitting that my dad has not
attended. ... My dad helps my girlfriends with their boy problems or homework
and also enjoys discussing sports and school with my boy friends. He is
able to help with my problems, and 99 percent of the time he is right,
unfortunately! ... I do not know what I would do without my dad, coach,
teacher, listener, talker, comedian and, most of all, best friend."
by cell phones, pagers and walkie-talkies, the Class of 2006 constantly
stays in touch with family and friends. In many cases, parents are their
of Wichita Falls sees good grades as the key to being successful and happy,
but more importantly he wants to make his father proud. Chrissy Addy of
Fort Worth says her mom, who took night classes to get a better job to
move them to a nicer house, is her best friend and the person she talks
to about money, society and the world.
experience are how the '06ers define their universe. They want good relationships,
a meaningful career and clear assurance they're doing the right thing.
Advice is as valuable as their allowance, and often they like to initiate
has unprecedented access to technology and knows how to use it. Some were
creating PowerPoint presentations in the sixth grade. They've started
Internet home pages and sent more e-mail than Mom and Dad combined. Some
even applied to TCU electronically.
have their cell phones and use Instant Messages to type their conversations,
but this group also wants interaction," said Carrie Zimmerman, coordinator
of TCU's Frog Camp, a 3- to 5-day optional program paired with orientation
where freshmen learn the ropes of college life before moving into the
residence halls. "They want a connectedness, a togetherness, some
about 65 percent of the class -- the highest percentage of any voluntary
non-campus camp in the nation -- attended one of nine Frog Camp sessions.
Each camp has a unique setting and purpose, from a Colorado adventure
to a get-to-know-Fort Worth excursion to a New Mexico service project
retreat. But every session has the same goal: Bring together about 50
to 200 students, divide them into groups of 12 and talk about college
life at TCU with two upperclass student facilitators and one faculty or
run the gamut: Ethical decision-making. Living with a roommate. Plagiarism.
In past years,
it was clear that students yearned to get out on their own. This year,
though, few seem in a big rush to leave home.
it's part of their generation or maybe because of Sept. 11, but for the
first time we're having students saying they're not ready to leave family,
not ready to leave friends," Zimmerman said. "We're seeing a
need for cocooning. Every student needs help with the transition from
high school to college, but I am seeing a stronger need in this class."
As a result,
students are spending more time alone processing the transition ahead,
setting goals and thinking about what they need. Frog Camp staffers are
spending more one-on-one time proffering personal advice.
find their tenderness refreshing, others worry that the '06ers have been
sheltered and are unequipped to handle the vastly different world of college.
Zimmerman predicts more homesickness, more requests of faculty for guidance
and more hall directors with their hands full. "It's going to take
this group longer to feel like this is their home," she said.
strong influence can be seen years before students enroll, says Ray Brown,
TCU's dean of admissions. While high school juniors and seniors used to
give more candid answers in solo interviews than they would in front of
their parents, Brown has noticed that students now say the same things
their moms and dads say, whether they're present or not.
orientations, it was rare to have a student leave campus during the two-day
event. This summer, several families have insisted their student stay
at a hotel with them. It is that kind of coddling, says Kay Higgins, director
of New Student Programs, that leaves some students struggling.
they come up against a potential worry or uncertainty, the parents swoop
in, sometimes continually, to save and rescue," she said. "Parents
are saying their student is stressed because there is so much going on.
I'm thinking, 'If this is stress now, what are they going to do when they're
off by themselves?' "
Class of 2006 are achievers.
flooded from the envelope as I read the dreaded message: 'I am sorry,
but you have not been chosen to be a part of the drill team. Try again
next year.' Just as I began to hear the cheerful screams of the girls
who had made the team, a feeling of defeat swept over me. I was overwhelmed
with jealousy, embarrassment and confusion. I had failed. ╔ After much
soul searching, I committed myself to becoming a Highland Belle. ╔ I turned
my disappointment into determination, and for the next 11 months, the
dance studio became my second home. ╔ After months of preparation I tried
out again. The week of tryouts was full of tears, worrying and frustration,
but most of all, determination. ╔ When I opened my envelope, my eyes filled
with tears and I saw through a blur the tiny yellow bell that I had earned
with my hard work and perseverance. I have never been so proud of myself
or more excited."
tournaments to school uniforms to group learning, the Class of 2006 has
developed strong team instincts and tight peer bonds. TCU's newest Frogs
also are accustomed to academic accountability since they have taken competitive
standardized tests at nearly every grade level since primary school. Their
expectations are high -- of themselves and others.
board, more are taking advanced placement courses and seeking dual high
school/college credit. One applicant had earned 42 credit hours when he
graduated from high school, which would technically make him a sophomore.
More are avoiding a cushy senior year by loading up on tough courses and
taking leadership roles in extracurricular activities.
reflect it. Emily Roberts of Fort Worth is an officer in student government,
a member of a school and church choir that's toured Europe and a volunteer
teacher at an area kindergarten class. Joseph Naranjo of Monahans shed
his public speaking fears by joining his school's drama team and playing
a major role in two plays. Kelli Kosmicki of Grand Island, Neb., admits
she isn't the most athletic player on her school's basketball team, but
as the team's only senior, she showed her teammates how to be a leader.
is a generation of students that is much different than we've seen on
a college campus -- different in a very positive way," Don Mills,
vice chancellor for student affairs, told parents at orientation. "We
have students who are more interested in accomplishing things and getting
things done. When there is a problem, they're saying, 'How can it be fixed?
What can be done?' They want to be part of the solution."
at Frog Camp many of their questions hinge on academic life. Will they
know how to study? Are faculty approachable? What do they do with all
this free time?
Many of them
are startlingly strong rule-followers. In the first camp, which usually
attracts the most eager go-getters, nearly everyone brought their class
schedules for the fall and turned in their health forms on time -- a Frog
At one late-night
ice cream social, rather than wandering off on their own, as is the norm,
the group shocked their counselors by showing up early, sitting in orderly
rows and eating their treats at tables. "We've never seen that,"
their turn to talk, they pick up after themselves and they help one another
with luggage. They are comfortable about being vulnerable and exceedingly
honest about their feelings, not afraid to say what they need or to ask
openness and achievement is refreshing to some, others have noticed a
growing sense of entitlement -- and not just among the students.
attitude is that the university is not a place to earn an education; it's
a service, and parents are eager to get their money's worth. Classes should
be geared for the bottom line, teaching only what is essential for the
workplace. "Students have said to professors, 'I paid $10,000 for
this semester; I want an A,' " Higgins said. "They don't see
the point. You pay for an education, not a grade."
in the residence halls. If there is a roommate conflict, many believe
the university -- not the students -- is responsible to fix it. That makes
for a difficult position for the university. Meeting the needs of the
customer sometimes does not help students grow as adults.
try to provide a climate where there is a balance of challenge and support
for the best learning opportunities," Higgins said. "If there
is too much challenge, frustrations become too high and there is no learning.
If there is too much support, students become too comfortable and don't
why TCU was among the first in the nation to invite parents to orientation
decades ago, reasoning that they would leave knowing that the university
wants students to learn and develop but it expects them to act as adults.
financial aid and scholarships office has felt the brunt of parents' and
students' expectations. Both groups come armed with more questions than
in past years, mostly about differing monetary offers. In some cases,
parents are not shy about asking upfront, "How much will my daughter
shop around and play one scholarship offer against another. The university's
response: Getting college money is not like haggling for a car. Grants
and aid depend on financial need and academic scholarships hinge on a
student's position in a school's application pool.
get $5,000 from SMU, but he is ranked higher in its pool. At TCU, his
transcript may only get $2,500 because he is up against stiffer competition.
Class of 2006 is confident.
weeks before the end of my freshman year in high school in Edgewater,
Md., my father, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, suddenly took a
turn for the worse. My family decided to move from our lifelong home with
virtually no planning whatsoever, so that my father could spend his last
few months near his family in Utah. I had successfully established myself
at South River High School and was sure I would continue my success there
in academics, leadership and athletics and graduate in June 2002. ...
The move to Utah represented a total change and a major transition in
my life, but I knew in my heart that this move was the right thing for
my father. I have always been a positive, happy person and accepted this
change as a challenge. ... I was elected junior class president only eight
months after moving to Utah. I think this transition in my life proved
to me that leadership is not necessarily dependent upon your location,
and success is a personal achievement."
Pleasant View, Utah
of confidence and optimism, the members of the Class of 2006 equate good
news about themselves with good news for their world.
Ely of Fort Worth began working at a junior girls fashion retailer two-and-a-half
years ago for minimum wage. Now she's assistant manager and says she will
be a successful businesswoman after she graduates. Patrick Redmond of
Alexandria, La., as a teen-ager performed CPR on his father and saved
his life. His goal entering college is to become the best physician in
come to TCU -- for most, their first choice among colleges -- anticipating
good things. In a survey given to all incoming freshmen, 98 percent indicated
that they expect to be satisfied with their choice of college. Five years
ago, the same survey yielded only 70 percent. Why the difference?
seem to be saying, 'I picked TCU and I intend to graduate from TCU,' "
Mills said. "A few years ago, students basically were saying, 'I
picked TCU and I will see how it goes. If it doesn't work, I'll just transfer.'
With the new group, the assumption is that TCU is the right place for
them and the keys to succeed are here."
TCU survey of '06ers showed that their top indicator of success is having
a satisfying career. Ten years ago, the top answer was making a lot of
Make no mistake,
they still want the big bucks, but they see older workers toiling 50-60
hours a week and say that is not for them. They want balance. Money, fun
and freedom. They want happy marriages, good friends, interesting
work. But it should allow them to have leisure time and remain in control
of their lives.
they can get there. Eighty percent of TCU's newest freshmen say their
academic ability is in the top 10 percent of people their age. Almost
73 percent say their leadership skills are better than most of their peers.
intend to get a master's degree or better. Good thing -- because the bachelor's
degree is the approximate equivalent of the high school diploma now, some
educators believe. Thus, re-education at the college level or on the job
will be central in making job changes for this group.
they will. Most will switch careers -- not jobs -- four to seven times.
They will face a job market hinged on contract or project employment.
They may even move around so much they will have to manage their own benefits
and retirement plans. Nearly 65 percent will head into their golden years
from jobs that are not even invented yet.
a broad-based education important, says Carolyn Ulrickson, director of
TCU Career Services. What employers want now are communication and teaming
skills. A prominent bank recently approached Ulrickson about hiring some
liberal arts graduates because it found that it is more efficient to teach
banking to good communicators than communication to finance majors.
job-attaining skills they learn will be as important as their undergraduate
coursework. "We want them, by the time they graduate, to be able
to write a resume, have good interviewing skills and exchange proper job
correspondence," Ulrickson said. "It's going to be important
to this group to know how to find a job."
Class of 2006 is socially aware.
parents decided that they were going to take my brother and me downtown
to the Salvation Army family shelter. I will never forget the smell and
the dingy look of the place as we climbed the stairs to the living room.
In the corner was a Christmas tree with lights, tinsel, a star and a few
decorations. There were no presents under the tree. ... I was horrified!
How could this be Christmas? ╔ When I got home, I ran down to the playroom
and found my two favorite Barbies. ╔ I washed and ironed their clothes,
combed their hair and put on their shoes. When I was finished, I brought
the dolls to my mom and she wrapped them, and I was able to bring them
to school. Words can't explain how wonderful it felt to share toys I valued
with others. I will never forget that place, and not a holiday goes by
when I don't remember those kids. My experience has made me aware of what
I have been blessed with and thankful for all that my parents have provided
80 percent of TCU's Class of 2006 participated in community service in
high school. Why? Because they think they can make a difference -- not
just build a resume.
popular trend is for high schools to require community service to graduate,
almost 77 percent of TCU freshmen did not have to volunteer to get a diploma.
of Keller used his Eagle Scout Leadership Project to organize a group
to paint a giant map of the United States on the playground of a local
elementary school. Clement Ogujiofor of Fort Worth tutored "problem"
children in a junior high after-school program. Jacqi Powell of Houston
helped build houses in an inner city ghetto in Cancun, Mexico, with her
25 percent are doing community service more than five hours a week and
40 percent expect to volunteer at TCU. One of the biggest opportunities
will come in the fall during TCU LEAPS, a campus day of volunteering.
For many, this launches them into a lifetime of service; for others, it
is good exposure.
to make it a part of their week, said Penny Woodcock, director of the
TCU Leadership Center. "Last year, students performed 60,000 hours
of community service total, but it could be double that depending on what
hours they're not reporting," she said.
from Frog Camp are that the Class of 2006 will do as much or more. "They're
empathetic, sensitive, not cynical at all. Basically, they want to change
the world," said Zimmerman. "We're amazed at how much they care
for each other."
Class of 2006 has a world view.
spent the first half on my life in Bogota, Colombia, I now know that I
was given an opportunity that some people never realize. To actually live
in a different geography, communicate in a foreign language and experience
the conflicts of a struggling democracy taught me more than I could learn
from any textbook and became a vital part of who I am. I met people from
all over the world and learned to accept their differences just as they
accepted mine. ... I experienced first hand what it was like to be part
of a 'minority' whose ideas were not always accepted. It was difficult
at times but ultimately helped me develop a more 'global' viewpoint as
I learned to tolerate and understand others."
Australia, Panama, Japan.
are world travelers. Joseph Bommarito of St. Louis hosted a boy from Spain
for two years, then traveled there to meet his family. Grant
Sawyer of Austin studied ants in Costa Rica. Brooke Bagby of Houston worked
at an orphanage in Honduras.
second in the nation in students with international experience, Mills
said. (That doesn't count TCU's international students, which come from
76 countries.) Having seen how the world works in different cultures,
this class thinks diversity is best. More than 75 percent believe racial
discrimination is still a problem in America.
complaint among TCU students is that the university needs more diversity.
"They're not just saying that for PC reasons, either. They like diversity,"
Mills said. "They see the value of learning from people not like
them." Even at Frog Camp, the '06ers are less inclined to divide
into cliques, Zimmerman said. They tend to be more welcoming of each other.
The more diversity, the more experiences to draw from.
TCU is steadily
improving its diversity ratios. A student population of 6 to 7 percent
non-Anglos in the early 1990s has doubled to between 12 and 15 percent.
TCU saw a mammoth 20 percent increase in minority applications this spring
and about the same number of applications from international students,
which is a coup considering the apprehension surrounding Sept. 11.
Dean Brown said there's a need for improvement but that diversity is increasing,
especially when considering factors beyond race. "Diversity is not
just a function of geography or skin color," he said. "It's
different faiths, different life experiences."
of 2006's world view also includes the worldlier side of life. Its members
have seen and experienced much of what is traditionally thought to be
reserved for adults -- especially alcohol and sex.
teens drink 25 percent of all the alcohol that is consumed. TCU students
contribute to that, and research shows that the vast majority of the university's
400 alcohol violations were committed by freshmen in past years.
But in its
latest survey, the TCU Alcohol and Drug Education Office reported that
binge drinking at TCU went down from the national average of 44 percent
to 37 percent.
they choose to drink, they are starting to be more careful," said
Angie Taylor, director of the Alcohol and Drug Education program. "I
would like to say it's our efforts, but I think part of it is this new
group of students. They're more responsible as a whole, though they do
like to pick their moments to go wild."
office works to change some misconceptions about drinking and college
life. Many students come to college expecting Animal House, so
Taylor and her staff communicate what the social norms are, that not everyone
parties all the time.
not tell them the truth? The truth here is good news," she said.
About 75 percent of TCU women and 51 percent of men average three or fewer
drinks in a week. About a quarter of the student body doesn't drink at
all. "We tie drinking responsibly into the university's mission of
developing ethical and responsible global leaders because responsible
leaders are also responsible in their alcohol consumption. That's worked
When it comes
to sex, nearly 30 percent of TCU '06ers say it's okay if two people like
each other. But while 44 percent say they had sex in the last year, that
is well below the national average of 68 percent of high school seniors.
not saying they're all virgins," Taylor said, "but what that
tells me is that they did it, it freaked them out, and now they're saying
wait a minute. They're starting the behavior, but they're not continuing
it. Same thing with drinking -- most have had a drink or even been drunk
in high school. That is different from before, when students didn't want
to disappoint Mom and Dad so they waited until they went to college to
drink. A lot of them have already seen the negatives, so that may be why
our numbers are lower."
Class of 2006 is pressured.
remember sharing the excitement of entering high school with my mother.
She told me of her high school days and I felt so grown up because we
were beginning to talk as friends. ╔ Suddenly, my whole world fell apart,
the night my mother fell into a coma. Every day was spent at the hospital,
while many sleepless nights I spent praying to know that my mother would
soon awake. ... [My father] had lost all hope, while my little brother
and I tried to cling to whatever hope was left. Some mornings I didn't
know how to go on, but somehow the answer always came. Then one bitterly
cold morning in early February, my mother quietly slipped through our
hands. I suppose she could hold on no longer. What we had feared most
had happened. My brother remained quiet; my father tried to appear strong,
but the pain I saw inside of him was unbearable to watch. I felt my only
choice was to be strong; I had to pull it together for the rest of my
family. I picked out the songs for mom's funeral and flowers for the casket
spread. Looking back on that time, I'm not sure how I made it."
families to learning disabilities to eating disorders to lost loved ones,
the Class of 2006 has endured its share of life's tough times. As a result,
its members are more willing to seek help, but some still haven't matured
enough to know how to cope.
III of San Antonio wrote about learning everything he ever wanted to know
about drugs and alcohol when he was in kindergarten when his family visited
an older brother in a treatment center. Andrew Price of San Antonio saw
the grandfather who bought him his first tennis racquet and encouraged
him to become a state champion die after numerous strokes.
we see is that students have experienced a lot of things, but they haven't
all developed tools to deal with it," Higgins said. "That's
one of the down sides to parenting today. We haven't wanted to let them
At TCU and
nationally, serious mental illness, eating disorders and therapy are on
the rise. In the past, those with mental illnesses never used to make
it to college, but with better medicines and treatment, now they do.
Mills said, but it puts more strain on campus medical staff, currently
three full-time physicians, a physician assistant and a nurse practitioner.
In the last few years TCU has increased the size of the counseling staff,
hired a specialist in eating disorders and added a full-time psychiatrist
to oversee Mental Health Services, including monitoring and prescribing
meds. The university also has started a program for rape and suicide counseling.
the university is more attuned to symptoms, but anorexia, bulimia and
antidepressant drug use -- essentially image problems -- are epidemic,
says Dr. John Terrell, who's spent 25 years as the TCU Health Center director.
stigma of going to counseling not what it once was, many of them have
been to therapy or are on medicines to deal with the stress. "The
No. 1 goal of freshmen is to fit in, so if they have some baggage in their
background, they're going to do what they can -- even therapy -- to take
care of it," said Taylor of the Alcohol and Drug Education office.
pressures extend to time constraints as well, with almost 40 percent of
the class working part- or full-time jobs while balancing a full courseload.
A few years ago TCU scaled back its orientation sessions by a half-day
because students -- not parents -- were too busy to fit it into their
is not coming to college to be adults; they're like adults when they arrive.
They listen to adult music. They go to movies with adult content. They
dress in a more adult fashion. They epitomize pop singer Britney Spears'
song "Not a girl, not yet a woman." Says Woodcock, of the leadership
center: "Society provides them a lot of adult influences, and at
17, they're sometimes not able to process that developmentally."
many are exploring different faiths and asking how to put religion into
their lives. '06ers ranked "finding meaning" the fourth most
important aspect of life. Ten years ago, that never hit the radar. "The
big issues are who am I and what am I going to do?" says university
minister John Butler.
all, they are only freshmen. In May, they had to ask for a pass to go
down the hall to the bathroom. In August, it's hello freedom!
for the next four years TCU is a good fit for the '06ers because more
than anything, they're looking for an extension of their family to help
them along. That's what Horned Frogs do best, Mills said.
because of our size and our culture, puts an emphasis on the individual,"
he said. "It is almost impossible to get lost at TCU. We want to
provide the right amount of challenge. We want them to grow emotionally,
grow spiritually, grow intellectually, grow socially, but we're there
to support them when that challenge becomes too great."
So who are
these new faces? You've seen them -- at school musicals, science fairs,
student government meetings and soccer games. There aren't enough adjectives
to describe them, and not all of them fit nicely into broad categories.
seem contradictory -- connected to their families but wanting to experience
life their own way, even dangerously. They want to make their world a
better place and volunteer in their communities, but they litter and would
rather drive than walk to class. They're focused on achievement, but occasionally,
they'll oversleep or forget an assignment.
a unique group, special in their own way, but not any more so than the
133 classes that precede them.
quite simply, the Horned Frog Class of 2006.
on the TCU Class of 2006
Female..................... 903 (62%)
Top 20% of HS class....599 (54%)
Geographic origin of freshmen
Out of state.................334 (23%)
Test score ranges
Distribution by college or school
Humanities & Social Sciences.....472 (33%)
Fine Arts.................................112 (8%)
Health & Human Services..........89 (6%)
Science & Engineering...............278 (19%)
about the class of 2006 and the Millennial Generation, check out these
By Neil Howe and William Strauss
Vintage Books, 2000
Web site for the book Millennials Rising by Neil Howe and William
Teen-written articles and commentary on the Millennial Generation
Studies of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American secondary
school students, college students, and young adults
or questions about this story write to: firstname.lastname@example.org