Edward Spencer of Blacksburg, Va., associate vice president for student affairs at Virginia Tech, conducted a presentation at the North Cross School in Roanoke, Va., about his research on the Millennial Generation, which represents Americans born between 1982 and the present. The presentation, titled “Understanding and Working with Millennials,” focused on the changing relationship between parents and this new generation and how parents can prepare them for success in higher education and the working world.

According to Spencer’s research, Millennials are a high-achieving, intelligent, and optimistic group, but are often under prepared for the challenges of an independent lifestyle. This lack of preparedness typically results from over-attentive parenting and the tendency to shelter children from obstacles that might be necessary for healthy development.

Spencer also said that Millennial students are inclined to be more academically disengaged than past generations. While Millennials have been getting higher grades than ever before, they lack connection with the material and spend much less time studying than students from past generations. Spencer suggests that this change is partly due to an emphasis on end products rather than the methods of achieving them.

“Parents tend to focus directly on performance,” but often fail to emphasize the need for reflective thinking and “developing a meaningful philosophy of life,” he said.

Spencer said he hopes this presentation helped to close the gap between higher-education and secondary-school perspectives on learning, and that parents will have a better sense of how to prepare their children in light of the Millennial Generation’s special needs.

Spencer also serves as an associate professor for the Department of Higher Education and Student Affairs at Virginia Tech, teaching a graduate course on this subject called The American College Student and the College Environment. He has worked as a professional in the field of student affairs for 35 years, and has made many research presentations on the nature of today’s college students, among other topics. Spencer received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester, a master’s degree from Syracuse University, and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Delaware.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become among the largest universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.

Listen to Edward Spencer's interview with WTOP Radio, "The Danger of Over Pampered Kids," broadcast Feb. 10, 2006, in the Washington, D.C. area:


Date: 02.10.06 | Length: 0:30 | Download MP3 (0.5 Mb)


Date: 02.10.06 | Length: 0:35 | Download MP3 (0.6 Mb)