Millennials get a lot of grief — “self-involved” and “entitled” are among the adjectives frequently used — so it’s interesting to see how they view the rest of the world.
Since 1966, pollsters at UCLA have been recording the attitudes of incoming college freshmen across the country on a variety of topics, and last year’s crop revealed themselves to be more fiscally focused and socially liberal than their predecessors.
Nearly half of the 166,000 students surveyed said financial aid offers were “very important” in deciding where to enroll, the highest rate ever reported in The American Freshman.
They also favor providing broader access to college, with fewer supporting the notion that undocumented immigrants should be denied admission. In 1996, 56.3 percent favored barring such students. Last year, that dropped to 40.7 percent.
For politicians, those attitudes — and others — may bear watching:
- More than three-quarters support the rights of same-sex parents to adopt children, an increase of 6.8 percentage points over last year’s survey.
- And 68 percent said wealthier people should pay a larger share of taxes than they do now.
- Yet on gun control, they skew libertarian. Just six of 10 students — about 64 percent — wanted more regulation on handgun sales. That’s a drop of 20 points from 1998, when 84 percent wanted increased federal oversight.
As for their own futures and personal habits, young people want money: More than 80 percent said it was important to be very well off financially (business was the most popular major). At the same time, 88.5 percent had done volunteer work the previous year.
They’re clean-living screen-magnets: Only 2.2 percent smoke cigarettes. But a quarter spent anywhere from three to 20 hours a week playing video games.
The majority spent less than an hour per week reading for pleasure.