The article takes a close look at the values, attitudes, and lifestyle preferences of the meritocratic elite, i.e. students of prestigious universities like Princeton. They appear to busy themselves with a variety of educational and extra-curricular activities to the extent they do not have time to start relationships or pay attention to the national politics. Most of them are happy with their life, and they accept high workload for the reasons of self-improvement, resume-building, and enrichment. They are described as extraordinary bright, morally earnest, and incredibly industrious.
They are unlikely to challenge the authority or engage in protest movements. They are apologetic every time they voice an opinion different from that of their classmates; they hardly ever disagree with what their professors are saying. Achievement ethos and acceptance of prevailing order are characteristic of them. They do not want to change the rules of the game; they want to conform to them in order to win. America’s efficient and demanding sorting-out process made them construct their identities in such a way.
The origins of the so-called ‘organizational kid’ are to be found in their upbringing. Parent relied on the achievements of medical and cognitive science to develop their children physically and intellectually. In elementary school, today’s students faced considerably more complex curricula than previous generations. This was the reaction to the report ‘A Nation at Risk’ (1983) that argued that students in the early 1980s were following a ‘cafeteria curricula’ consisting of easy electives to a large extent. Since then, the central focus of the school reform was on testing, accountability, and order. Medical advances also played a role in the schooling of an organizational kid, as conduct disorders were responded by medications.
In terms of playtime, it became more organized, regulated, and supervised, with an emphasis on safety. As for adolescence, neo-romantics of the 1960s ad 1970s believed that children should grow up freely, left free to explore, and develop their own creative inclinations. Nowadays parents do not hesitate to impose their authority. Parental authority nowadays rests on three pillars: science, safety, and achievement. Most teenagers are content with such developments and attach great value to harmonious relations with their seniors.
Furthermore, college administrations tend to impose stricter regulations concerning students’ behavior. Yet students are increasingly supportive of universities’ regulation of private matters such as campus drinking.
Another factor that played a role in shaping an organizational kid is the decade of peace and prosperity they witnessed as children and teenagers. Their parents, the baby boomers, went great lengths to impose order and responsibility on their kid’s lives that they never experienced themselves.
Organizational kids have little generational consciousness; therefore they are very different from the previous generations. Yet they resemble the generation of students before World War I. However, the major difference is associated with the fact that modern college and family environment does nothing to build character or communicate values to the students. Happiness and success students of prestigious universities constantly experience prevents them from facing the ultimate challenge and receiving the ultimate reward.