It is said that if you ask a college graduate who is the greatest generation, they may respond by suggesting themselves.
This high degree of self-infatuation amongst teenagers who attend university has been revealed in a new analysis of the American Freshman Survey, which asked students to rate themselves compared to their peers since 1966. Some 9 million young people have taken the survey over the last 47 years.
Does a college degree make us more confident individuals?
Psychologist Jean Twenge, together with her colleagues, compiled the data and found that over a forty-year period, there has been a significant and dramatic rise in the number of students who describe themselves as being ‘above average’ in areas of academic ability, mathematical ability, drive to achieve and self-confidence.
On the other hand, in assessing characteristics that are considered less individualistic such as cooperativeness, understanding others and spirituality, the numbers either stayed the same or slightly decreased over the same period.
Interestingly, the researchers also found an inverse relationship between the student’s opinions of themselves and their actual ability. Given my own background I believe that coming from a caring and supporting family plays the biggest part in building self-confidence and personal success and it is those attributes that will help us through university.
Our personalities are deeply rooted in genetics and our early environment, and without those years being positive, we are less likely to excel in confidence and self-esteem. As individuals we have the potential to create positive experiences as a way of increasing confidence and self-esteem, but like everything those things must come from within.
We must first learn to work with our inner-selves if we are to create confidence and self-esteem in other things too.