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A coddled generation? Some educators see lack of 'soft skills'

A coddled generation? Some educators see lack of 'soft skills'

Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — Many of today's youth are academically ready for college and a career, but an increasing number of them are lacking the so-called soft skills -- things like time management, grit, and compassion, according to some educators.

Karen Hicks, associate director of the START Center at Westminster College, says many parents who think they are helping their children are really enabling them.

"The helicopter parents and the hand-holding, (the students) get all that through high school and then in college it's a free-for-all," she said.

Hicks says many new students don't know how to get along with roommates, wake up on time, do their laundry, pick classes, or manage their time.

The START Center offers students help and resources while showing them how to do things on their own.

Desired skills may include ...
  • Resiliency
  • Problem-solving
  • Compassion
  • Time Management
  • Responsibility
  • Resourcefulness
  • Goal setting
  • Communication

"I joke in a class I teach called ‘Transitioning to college for athletes' that the laundry fairy no longer exists," she said. "You have to figure out when you are going to eat. There's no one there to wake you up, clean your apartment."

Hicks says society has gone too far in the direction of enabling youth. She suggests that instead of enabling their children, parents should do one key thing.

"Letting children fail in a safe environment because when they get (to college), failing is not safe," she said.

She says her mother allowed her to fail in high school and that went a long way toward teaching her how to handle life.

Robyn Lady, the director of student services at a Virginia high school, told Education Week this is "the most coddled generation."

"If they forget their lunch, don't bring it to them. They won't starve," she said.

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Mary Richards


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