During the 2016 primaries, Bernie Sanders's nomination hinged on the support of college students, mostly millennials at the time. Offering free college and complete student loan forgiveness seemed like the surefire way to secure their support, and he was right. The millennial college students pounced on his self-identified "democratic socialist" campaign and embraced his ideas of universal healthcare and free education.
It's true that millennials are a very liberal generation. The issue is that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are still running on that presumption.
But current college students are not millennials. We're Generation Z (if those words really have any value). Regardless, we are not like our socialist-curious predecessors. Granted, we are still generally a liberal population — you might be hard-pressed to find a socially conservative college student who would vote for Trump — but most of us are more moderate than Democrats think we are. Most of my friends and colleagues, and I included are baffled by Warren and Bernie's uber-liberal agenda. It is especially strange that both believe that their policies reflect the values of today's youth.
Though the majority of us would support universal healthcare and, boy, does free college sound amazing, I believe those ideas are respectively going to kill our jobs and are economically damaging. This is especially true because neither has truly laid out a practical plan to pay for these options while simultaneously protect the private sector, in regards to healthcare.
Furthermore, Warren's presumption that our hatred for billionaires is so intense that we would support a "wealth tax" that is likely unconstitutional (and immoral) doesn't convince me. The college population I see today is not so socialist that we would hinder capitalism in such a direct way, we do not want to punish the people who have already earned their money. Sure, the wealth gap needs to decrease, but there is really no way one can justify penalizing the money that people have already earned.
I am not speaking for all college students, but from my experience, many are socially liberal but not economically so, especially considering candidates like Warren or Sanders. More moderate candidates, like Pete Buttigieg, may have more success with these college students. Some college students don't even have a preference anymore because they feel like none of the candidates are finding a middle ground. This is a problem because Democrats need to find a way to make this generation of college students come out and vote, but the only way they can do that is to figure out their base and stop assuming that we run on a blindly liberal agenda.