Are College Freshman Overconfident?

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Monday, June 20, 2011

Are College Freshman Overconfident?

Among academics who track the behavior of young adults and teens, there's a touchy debate: Should the word 'entitled' be used when talking about today's younger people? Are they overconfident in themselves? San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge says new research proves that's the case. Her study, published online and in the British journal Self and Identity, investigates why college-aged kids may be more self-centred and narcissistic than past generations.

Among other things, Ms Twenge and her colleagues found that a growing percentage of incoming college freshmen rated themselves as 'above average' in several categories, compared with college freshmen who were surveyed in the 1960s. When it came to social self-confidence, about half of freshmen questioned in 2009 said they were above average, compared to fewer than a third in 1966. Meanwhile, 60 percent in 2009 rated their intellectual self-confidence as above average, compared with 39 percent in 1966, the first year the survey was given.

In the study, the authors also argue that intellectual confidence may have been bolstered by grade inflation, noting that, in 1966, only 19 per cent of college students who were surveyed earned an 'A' or 'A-minus' average in high school, compared with 48 percent in 2009. Ms Twenge said: "Students might be more likely to think they're superior because they've been given better grades."

Many bosses and others in the workplace have long argued that recent college students often arrive with unreasonably high expectations for salary and an unwillingness to take criticism or to pay their dues.

Janelle Mills, who'll be a junior this fall at Stetson University in Florida, says she and her peers get tired of their elders 'ragging' on them about being entitled or lazy - or just labelling them in general. But she also thinks there's something to this study about over-confidence. "Kids are being encouraged to be the best that they can be. I think that this can create a superiority complex for those who begin to think that their best is better than everyone else's," she said. "Modesty and humility are no longer common and are becoming harder to find."

Source: Daily Mail