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Perspective: The kids are alright

We have just graduated another crop of students and sent them out into the world to make their fortune. And like every year prior to this one, I am so extremely proud of the remarkable accomplishments and capabilities of our graduates. But I am also worried. And not because of the usual complaints we typically hear circulating about gen-z. I am worried because I fear that WE have not and could not have done enough to prepare them for the challenges they will inevitably have to face.

The graduating class of 2024 will need to respond to and quite honestly fix a lot of problems that we — the adults in the room — have unfortunately left for them. They enter a job market where the good careers that have been the pathway to a comfortable and prosperous future are threatened by technologies that were science fiction just a decade ago. The world they inherit is currently at war in both Europe and the middle east. The climate of the entire planet is in crisis. And everywhere they look, it appears that authoritarianism is on the rise. They are staring down epoch-defining challenges — challenges my generation never even thought possible. So, I am understandably worried for them.

But I am also confident they will rise to the occasion. Because they have astonished us again and again, precisely by succeeding in ways that we never thought possible. So yes, the challenges are great, but so are the opportunities. And the kids…they’re going to be alright.

Northern Illinois University professor and author