Going To College: The Difference Between Gen Yers And Boomers

Dropped the middle daughter off at college this week. A painful reminder of not only how old I am, but how my maturity level has failed to keep pace with my chronological age.

I was also struck by how different the moving into/going to college experience is today from what it was like when I went away to college.

Difference #1

Boomers: Took me all of 45 minutes to move into my dorm room. Five minutes to get my stuff out of the car into the room, 5 minutes to throw my clothes into drawers, 5 minutes to plug in my stereo, and 30 minutes experimenting with speaker placement in the room to optimize the stereophonic impact of Dark Side of the Moon.

Gen Y: 4.5 hours to move in. 30 minutes waiting for clueless Gen Y Resident Assistants to get traffic moving, 25 minutes to get the stuff into the room. Then it was 1 hour to clean the walls, the bed, the desk, and all the drawers (apparently, my tolerance for dirt is WAY higher than the rest of my family’s).  TWO AND A HALF hours to put the clothes into the dresser and closet, take them out, put them back in, take them out, put them back in, take them out, and put them back in. And oh yeah, 5 minutes for Dad to set up the printer with the laptop.

Difference #2

Boomers: Called home 10 times. Over the next four years, that is. Once a semester, and maybe one additional time if I needed money. Who wanted to call home? I can imagine what the conversation would’ve been like: “Oh, hi Mom, Hey, look, would love to chat, but we’re heading out to see some Dead shows. Should be back in a week or so. What’s that? What about my classes? What about them?”

Gen Y: Texted 10 times. IN THE FIRST 30 MINUTES AFTER MOM AND DAD LEFT. I don’t even know what all the texts were about. I do know that none had to do with the printer and the laptop, because that would’ve been the only reason why I would’ve received a text message. But my wife’s iPhone was beeping off the hook (I don’t know of a more up-to-date image) with text messages from our college student.

Difference #3

Boomers: Spent half a day buying books for classes. Waited on line to get IN to the bookstore, waited in line to get to the textbook section, then spent G*d-knows-how-much-time wandering around the textbook section looking for the books that pertained to our classes. Then waited in line to pay for the books.

Gen Y: Goes online to Amazon and buys a bunch of books in advance that are delivered before Gen Yer leaves home (and which Dad has to carry from the car–which is parked 1/2 mile away from dorm–to the dorm room). For the remaining books, Gen Yer buys on the University Book Store web site where the really nice folks at the Book Store BUNDLE up the books in a nice little package for Gen Coddled to pick up. Don’t know if this is true, but I heard that at some schools, the book store will actually deliver the books to the student’s dorm room.

Difference #4

Gen Y: Goes to Tech Help Center where surprisingly non-geeky-looking geeks download Microsoft Office and antivirus software onto Gen Yer’s laptops.

Boomer: Needless to say, no comparable experience. One point to note, though: Daughter’s MacBook Air cost as much an entire semester’s tuition in my first year of business school at UT Austin — and I was an out-of-state student. 


I’m sure there a lot of other differences between Boomers’ and Gen Yers’ college experiences. Problem is, I don’t remember too much of that anymore, and I don’t think I really want to know what goes on today.

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