In 1971, many of the same social issues that influenced the late 1960s continued to impact American society. In addition, we see the emergence of the digital age with the invention of the first Microprocessor and the creation of the pocket calculator. This was also the beginning of internet chat rooms and the invention of the email, though common use was still years away. The lowering of the voting age to 18 was officially ratified into law as the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
As young people gained this new right to vote at 18 and as new technology was emerging, we start to see a growing divide between young Americans and their parents. Disillusioned by a prolonged war in Vietnam and a growing mistrust of the government and its power over American citizens, young adults were beginning to distance themselves from their parents’ generation. In order to capture this burgeoning shift by young men and women, the CIRP Freshman Survey included a number of different questions related to how students interacted with their parents.
One question in particular, only included this year, directly sought students’ opinions on the emerging generation gap by asking students the extent to which they agreed with the following statement:
- The generation gap between me and my parents is so great that we can barely communicate.
Nearly one in five (18.6%) incoming students indicated that they agreed “somewhat” or “strongly” with this statement. While certainly not the majority opinion, it clearly shows the generation gap.
Despite this belief in the growing generation gap, many freshmen still relied on their parents for future planning and funding for college. For example, the following question asked students the frequency with which they engaged in certain activities:
Indicate which activities you did during the past year: Discussed my future with my parents.
Of the respondents, 38.7% of all freshmen “frequently” discussed their future with their parents. However, there are significant differences between the opinions and behaviors of men and women. For example, women (46.1%) were more likely to frequently discuss their future with their parents than men were (32.4%).
Additionally, one question asked about the funding sources for students’ education:
For each item below, indicate its importance as a source of financing your education.
In response to this question, 54.5% relied on their parents as a “major” source of financial support for their education. Only 48.9% of men relied on their parents to pay for college, compared to 61.2% of women. Adding a layer of complexity to the perceived generation gap, these findings reveal a continued reliance on parents for support and funding, especially for women.
Did you know…
51.6% of all entering freshmen rated themselves as better than average in comparison to the average student their age in terms of cheerfulness.
36.3% of all entering freshmen rated themselves as better than average in comparison to the average student their age in terms of stubbornness.