High school is a bit easier than it used to be, but the rest of life is a lot harder, writes New York Times columnist David Brooks. He’s been reading UCLA’s latest survey of college freshmen.
In 1966, only about 19 percent of high school students graduated with an A or A- average. By 2013, 53 percent of students graduated with that average.
The grades are higher even though, for many, the workload is lighter. As late as 1987, nearly half of high school students reported doing at least six hours of homework a week. By 2006, less than a third of all students reported doing that much work.
By the first year in college, students are worried about college costs and payoffs. They’re much more likely than earlier generations to see college as job training, writes Brooks.
In 1966, only 42 percent of freshmen said that being well-off financially was an essential or very important life goal. By 2005, 75 percent of students said being well-off financially was essential or very important.
“Developing a meaningful philosophy of life” was a priority for 86 percent of first-year students in 1966. Now, less than half say that’s essential or very important, Brooks points out. “In the shadow of this more Darwinian job market, it is more acceptable to present yourself as utilitarian, streamlined and success-oriented.”