The Millenials Go to College

On February 17, 2006, Richard Sweeney, NJIT University Librarian, will be the featured speaker in the NJEDge.Net DLAAB Faculty Colloquium : How Does the Millennial Generation Differ from Other Generations at the Same Age?

They already know that they don't want to work or play like their parents generation. They are called the Millennials, Gen Y, Next Gen, Echo Boomers. They use information, and learn, differently.

They were born between 1979 and 1994, and they are the largest generation since the Boomers (1946 to 1964). Millennials currently crowd our colleges and universities, both because they are a larger generation and because more of them are going to college than ever before.

Playing with iPods and surfing the Web are second nature to so-called Millennials. They have short attention spans and multitask constantly. They see themselves as consumers who "want to learn only what they have to learn" in "a style that is best for them" -- and that usually does not mean listening to a professor lecture. They prefer to use Weblogs and video games, and to collaborate with other students.

Critics, such as Naomi Baron, a linguistics professor at American University, say parents and teachers have helped produce those traits in today's students by pandering to them -- encouraging them to spend time with electronic media, for example, and emphasizing their right to express themselves over the skills they need to express themselves well. They need to learn how to think through problems on their own, she says, and that requires time for quiet contemplation.

How -- and how much -- should colleges change to adapt to this new generation? And how different are Millennials, really, from the students who preceded them?

Millennial researcher, Richard Sweeney, will discuss how Millennials differ from generations before them at the same age and explore the implications for colleges and universities.

Mr. Sweeney will then pose questions to a live panel of Millennials videoconferencing from three different NJ colleges/universities, as he attempts to confirm and expand on this research. Audience participants at all sites will be given an opportunity to ask their own questions of the panel.

Richard T. Sweeney has been university librarian at the New Jersey Institute of Technology for 10 years. Before that, he directed the library at Polytechnic University, in Brooklyn, N.Y., and directed public libraries in Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio. He speaks frequently about the Millennial generation at conferences for groups such as the American Library Association and the Association of College and Research Libraries. He also consults for libraries on how to accommodate the new generation.

On Friday, Feb. 17, 2:00pm - 4:00pm, Rich will be presenting live at NJIT (GITC room 1400) and during the program he will be videoconferencing with students and observers at the County College of Morris, Mercer County College and Ramapo College.

The program is free. To register for any location online and for information on the locations and directions, go to



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