"The worst generation": that's how Aaron Sorkin surrogate Will McAvoy describes the Millennial in the pilot episode of his show "The Newsroom." Millennials are those who came of age in the 1990s, spent their adolescence soaking in the 2000s and have now hit the adult world with a bang.
Arthur Levine, a former president of the Teachers College of Columbia University and co-author of "When Hope and Fear Collide: A Portrait of Today's College Student," has studied the attitudes of college students for decades. His latest research looks at the millennial age group, which he calls the "tightrope generation."
"The tightrope is really the stress these students are feeling between their hopes and dreams and the reality that they're living in," says Levine. "Eighty percent don't expect social security to exist. They're working much longer hours, but their income averages $31,000."
But, "they actually have an extremely positive view of their own futures."
This, says Levine, is because of the generation-wide coddling many Millennials have received.
"They're not really good at confronting adversity," he says. "One in five is in touch with parents three times a day or more. They are rule followers who want to be told what to do -- students will come arrange a time with the dean for a protest so it doesn't interrupt classes."
That is, if they protest at all -- Levine points out that only 11 percent reported having participated in demonstrations, the lowest in "40 odd years."
But they're also, sociologically, more diverse than their parents: they have more friends from different races, more accepted sexual orientations and are the first generation of "digital natives" to hit college.