Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Generational crossroads: Bridging the divide at Augie

Victoria Campbell

Through the dynamic landscape of the academic and professional worlds, Augustana College students find themselves at the intersection of multiple generations, each with its own set of values, beliefs and communication styles. The impact of this generational divide is often overlooked, but it poses opportunities and challenges for students as they embark on their post-graduation journey. 

Given recent events across the globe, such as tensions surrounding the freedom of expression of students on campuses and the use of TikTok as a primary news source, these differences are increasingly pronounced, making it all the more critical for students to learn how to navigate this gap as they enter into life after college. 

As students, we are not only immersed in a diverse learning environment but also in an environment where the generational gap between students and established professionals, administration and faculty is becoming increasingly pronounced. 

This gap extends beyond age differences; it encompasses variations in technology adoption, work ethics, communication preferences and even social norms.

Because of the vast impact of generational differences, it’s critical that we, as students, equip ourselves with the tools necessary to prepare for and ultimately navigate this divide here at Augie. These skills will also be critical once we graduate and enter into the workforce, graduate school or any additional post-graduate plans.

Post-graduation, this generational gap can manifest in various ways, affecting our interactions with colleagues, supervisors and clients. The challenge lies in effectively navigating these differences while maintaining professionalism and positive relationships. Whether it’s adapting to traditional workplace hierarchies or understanding the importance of face-to-face communication in a digital age, bridging this gap is essential for success.

Moreover, the impact of the generational divide extends beyond the workplace and seeps into every aspect of our lives, both on and off campus. In academic settings, students may find themselves struggling to connect with professors and other faculty members who come from different generations and cultural backgrounds, which can hinder learning experiences and academic success if not addressed.

So, how can Augie students be well-equipped to handle this generational gap? 

The key lies in fostering open dialogue and promoting mentorship opportunities to bridge the gap between generations in academic and professional environments.

Firstly, creating spaces for meaningful conversations where students and faculty can openly discuss their perspectives, experiences and expectations is crucial. This can be facilitated through workshops, seminars or even informal gatherings where individuals from different generations come together to share their insights and learn from each other. This is something Augustana already does to an extent through its annual Day of Learning, Symposium Day or when inviting guest speakers. 

However, the school needs to actively promote these events and incentivize students to attend beyond the occasional email or shout-out in the Daily Bulletin.

Additionally, mentorship programs can play a vital role in bridging the generational gap by pairing students with experienced professionals who can provide guidance, support and valuable insights into the industry. These mentorship relationships not only offer students practical advice but also help them navigate the nuances of workplace dynamics and develop essential skills for success.

Mentorship and other tools to facilitate connections in a student’s future workplace are available to an extent through CORE, but again, there needs to be better promotion of these resources across campus and an incentive for students to utilize them beyond future success. 

The generational divide between students and established professionals, administration and professors is a reality that cannot be ignored, and Augustana needs to take the necessary steps to better prepare its students as they enter into the world off-campus to navigate this gap. 

By fostering open dialogue and promoting mentorship opportunities, Augie students can be better equipped to navigate this divide both during their time on campus and as they explore their careers post-graduation. By bridging the gap between generations, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment where every individual has the opportunity to thrive.

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