Diverse Millennial Students in College: Implications for Faculty and Student Affairs ed. by Fred Bonner II, Aretha F. Marbley, and Mary F. Howard-Hamilton (review)
The Review of Higher Education
Volume 37, Number 1, Fall 2013
John A. Mueller
Scott E. Miller
Bonner II, Fred A., Aretha F. Marbley, and Mary F. Howard-Hamilton, eds., Diverse Millennial Students in College: Implications for Faculty and Student Affairs (Sterling, Virginia: Stylus Publishing, LLC., 2011).
In a pithy and direct manner, the introduction to Diverse Millennial Students in College makes it clear that the book “eschews the tendency to force students into constraining frameworks” (p. 1) that overly simplify college populations. In doing so, the editors challenge the utility and relevance of the defining traits of millennial students (Howe & Strauss, 2000) in describing students of color, multiracial students, and LGBTQ students. The editors and chapter authors also analyze how the Howe and Strauss “generational framework underestimates the potential of these students” (p. 113). After nearly a decade of the ubiquitous “millennials” in student affairs literature, conferences, and coursework, along comes a book that critically examines how diversity impacts generational status.
This book is structured around paired chapters that address particular diverse constituencies of millennial college students: African American, Asian American, Latino/a, Native American, LGBTQs, and bi/multiracials. While this is a fitting approach, the editors do not provide a rationale for their choice of chapter topics, nor do they forecast for the reader the content of each chapter in light of the book’s objective.
Chapter 1 is an extension of the introduction and, as the title suggests, tests our assumptions about generational cohorts. The author points out similarities among all millennials, such as the defining moments that have shaped their lives, their increased focus on social justice and service, and a significant increase in parental influence, among others. The author also identifies ways in which millennial students may experience college differently based on generation status and identity.
Part 2 focuses on African American millennials. Chapter 2 presents data on the differences between today’s African American students and previous generations of African American students with respect to enrollment, financial affluence, and levels of academic achievement. Taking a less quantitative approach, the authors of Chapter 3 provide a narrative analysis of an African American male who grew up in a small, rural town in Georgia from elementary school through graduate school. This narrative illustrates the challenges faced by African American students of rural backgrounds attending a predominantly White institution in a larger city.
Part 3 examines Asian American millennial college students. Chapter 4 presents research that compares Asian American millennial students to both their millennial counterparts and to Asian American students from previous generations. The author also outlines a number of current social and political trends in the United States that are likely to have an impact on Asian American millennials and their experience in higher education.
Chapter 5 expands on the previous chapter and homes in on three specific trends with respect to Asian American millennials: an increase in the diversity of Asian Americans in higher education (i.e., diversification); an increase in the use of technology, particularly among Asian American millennials (i.e., digitization); and the degree to which Asian American millennials are connected to national and global events and to Asian American and Asian communities (i.e., globalization).
The authors in Part 4 examine the Latino/a experience in higher education. In Chapter 6, the authors provide demographic data regarding the increase in the Latina/o population in the United States and compare and contrast this generation of students with those before it across different categories, such as enrollment, parents’ education, family structure and size, religion, technology, motivation, goals and aspirations, career objectives, and civic engagement.
In Chapter 7, the authors use the Howe and Strauss (2000) framework to demonstrate how findings from two studies on Latino/o college students parallel and diverge from the seven characteristics of millennials. In addition, they offer useful insights on how generation status (from an immigrant perspective) can be more useful than generational theory as a predictive theory.
Part 5 focuses on Native American millennial college students. Chapter 8 documents the challenges that Indigenous students face in higher education: a lack of academic preparation, inadequate finances, few higher education faculty as role models, cultural differences between their native home and the university setting, and institutional barriers. Chapter 9 places the millennial generation of Native American college students in a historical context. Examined in some depth are the boarding school era, tribal colleges, and Native American students’ entrance into predominantly White institutions. Complementing this history are…