A 2014 comprehensive survey released by UCLA found a declination in socializing among today’s college students with social media replacing face-to-face interaction. With more and more educated people joining the labor force, as it demands, and more college freshman entering, as the survey reports, with aspirations of advanced degrees, socializing, it appears, has taken a backseat in the college experience.
Depicted by flicks like “Neighbors,” and “Animal House” the picture of the raging university, parties, alcohol, drugs, and sex its unwritten promise, has become its own archetype. Today, however, the raging university picture has become just that. 37.9% of incoming college students reported socializing with friends at least 16 hours per week in 1987 with 18.1% spending five hours or less socializing. In 2014 this drastically and quite almost literally reversed with 18% of students reporting spending at least 16 hours per week socializing with friends and 38.8% reporting dedicating five hours or less with friends, an “all-time low” as the survey claims.
Online activity has replaced this decline in socializing with the percentage of students who spend an hour or less on social networks declining from 31.9% to 21.7% and the percentage of students who spent six hours or more per week online increasing from 18.9% to 27.2% in a comparison between a 2007 and 2014 survey.
Students today prefer to satisfy their social cravings through organized clubs and activities. In 1982 24.4% of students reported that a college’s social activities was a “very important” reason for their college choice, however in 2014 44.2% responded in favor of a college’s social activities.
For those students who have no interest in seeking out clubs and organizations, a concern over their emotional health is being raised. Students’ self-reported emotional health dropped to 50.7%, at its lowest ever, with the proportion of students who “frequently” felt depressed raising to 9.5%.
Are students today more serious…boring even? Are the days of the “weekend rage” over? Has this generation become…anti-social?
Arguably not. With apps like Yik Yak, Instagram, SnapChat and so on, our socializing patterns have become instant, if not more personal, and 24/7. With the flick of an app your best friend’s daily doings are at your fingertips.
However, of course, this cannot replace the comfort of actual human interaction raising a concern over the general emotional health of students today. Checking your Instagram to see what your old high school friends are doing while taking a study break cannot compare to the actual thrill of meeting someone completely new and random in person, of course that is to say if you’re that type of person who enjoys face-to-face interaction, but as you are human, we are all human, real live interaction is essential.
Perhaps the new breed of college students is just a more driven and motivated bunch and the idea of partying just doesn’t satisfy us anymore. We are the “Peter-Pan” generation, helicoptered by our parents from a very early age. We were raised to be productive and driven machines. Our methods of socialization run in favor of online interaction and not loose forms of socialization. We have been raised on structured socialization. Perhaps that’s why parties don’t appeal to the majority of us. Discussion and thought is what we crave, not “wild times” as depicted by the likes of “Neighbors.”
Of course that is not to say that partying does not still go on in college which of course it does and that all students shy away from the idea of partying, it’s just that there’s less students partying today. Could this be a good thing? Perhaps, but students should definitely find time for fun and learn how to have fun their emotional needs calling for it. Having fun, knowing how to have fun, is important as it can add a lot to a work environment. Parties, with this thought in mind, help students learn not only how to have fun but to be confident as well. It provides an environment of complete release un-harbored by the structured forms of socializing that clubs and organizations provide. What differs between a party and a club or organization is the difference of stress between the two mediums of socialization. Where in a club/organization you’re under a pressure to present yourself in a certain light, at a party being yourself is acceptable, confidence-boosting a given. Of course, in both situations, the means of confidence boosting differ and if you’re not the type of person who enjoys a good party than the structured socialization that clubs and organizations provide will be for you.
Regardless of whether or not you prefer a party or a structured club or nothing at all, there is no doubt that the college environment has definitely been changing. Students are approaching college with a lot more serious focus now more than ever before, brought about by today’s labor market, a high GPA and an impressive resume the new employment model. Partying and socializing is definitely the last thing on the average student’s mind today.
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