A few weeks ago, I read a Quora response to the question "What are the skills every 18-year-old needs?" from former Stanford dean Julie Lythcott-Haims. You should read the answer for yourself, but what I took away from Lythcott-Haim's response was essentially a condescending, "millennials can't use public transit on their own. They'd probably fall over if we stopped holding their hands."
The very first sentence of the former Stanford dean's answer turned me away immediately. "An 18-year-old should be able to talk to strangers." Apparently, parents teach their children not to talk to strangers, and as such, their children are unable to communicate with the new people they will meet, her response continues. The author also mentioned that an 18-year-old should be able to help around the household and hold a part-time job because they've been brought up in an environment where they've never had any responsibilities to the household or a need for a job. Now, I have a question for her, too. Have you ever met a lower-income student? Like, ever?
Given what she's writing about, the author seems to be very far removed from reality. She speaks of sheltered children who are lost without the crutch of a wealthy guardian and applies it to a whole generation. She manages to do this with the most patronizing tone possible, "Kids don't know how to look after their own needs, respect the needs of others or do their fair share for the good of the whole," and that's a direct quote from the passage. I remind you that she's speaking about rising university students, some of whom are working three or four part-time jobs, while balancing their schoolwork to help out their family, others who have studied every single line of their textbooks to make up for the expensive college prep courses they can't afford. I once read an article that told Ivy League students to try waiting tables for once to "burst their bubble of ignorance," as if that wasn't what I, along with plenty of my classmates, had been doing for the past two years.
The looking down on millennials as an incompetent generation is rather common. I've come across tons of articles that tell me I need to get my nose out of my phone or to learn to build a wooden shack with my bare hands in Alaska. That is probably true to some degree, that my phone and I are practically inseparable and that I live in world of privilege that I'll never fully understand, but I most definitely know how to use public transit and I haven't even hit 18 yet. So, it seems that Julie Lythcott-Haim's response to "What are the skills every 18-year-old needs" is more representative of the parents who can afford to send their kids to Standford than of the honest students who have not stopped working to get themselves there.