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Reviewed by
John A. Mueller
Professor, Department of Student Affairs in Higher Education, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Scott E. Miller
Master's Candidate, Department of Student Affairs in Higher Education, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Fred Bonner II, Aretha F. Marbley, and Mary F. Howard-Hamilton (Eds.). Diverse Millennial Students in College: Implications for Faculty and Student Affairs. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, 2011. pp. Paper: $29.95. ISBN: 978-1-57922 447-9.

In a pithy and direct manner, the introduction to Diverse Millennial Students in College makes it clear that the book "eschews the tendency to force students into constraining frameworks" (p. 1) that overly simplify college populations. In doing so, the editors challenge the utility and relevance of the defining traits of millennial students (Howe & Strauss, 2000) in describing students of color, multiracial students, and LGBTQ students. The editors and chapter authors also analyze how the Howe and Strauss "generational framework underestimates the potential of these students" (p. 113). After nearly a decade of the ubiquitous "millennials" in student affairs literature, conferences, and coursework, along comes a book that critically examines how diversity impacts generational status.

This book is structured around paired chapters that address particular diverse constituencies of millennial college students: African American, Asian American, Latino/a, Native American, LGBTQs, and bi/multiracials. While this is a fitting approach, the editors do not provide a rationale for their choice of chapter topics, nor do they forecast for the reader the content of each chapter in light of the book's objective.

Chapter 1 is an extension of the introduction and, as the title suggests, tests our assumptions about generational cohorts. The author points out similarities among all millennials, such as the defining moments that have shaped their lives, their increased focus on social justice and service, and a significant increase in parental influence, among others. The author also identifies ways in which millennial students may experience college differently based on generation status and identity.

Part 2 focuses on African American millennials. Chapter 2 presents data on the differences between today's African American students and previous generations of African American students with respect to enrollment, financial affluence, and levels of academic achievement. Taking a less quantitative approach, the authors of Chapter 3 provide a narrative analysis of an African American male who grew up in a small, rural town in Georgia from elementary school through graduate school. This narrative illustrates the challenges faced by African American students of rural backgrounds attending a predominantly White institution in a larger city.

Part 3 examines Asian American millennial college students. Chapter 4 presents research that compares Asian American millennial students to both their millennial counterparts and to Asian American students from previous generations. The author also outlines a number of current social and political trends in the United States that are likely to have an impact on Asian American millennials and their experience in higher education.

Chapter 5 expands on the previous chapter and homes in on three specific trends with respect to Asian American millennials: an increase in the diversity of Asian Americans in higher education (i.e., diversification); an increase in the use of [End Page 122] technology, particularly among Asian American millennials (i.e., digitization); and the degree to which Asian American millennials are connected to national and global events and to Asian American and Asian communities (i.e., globalization).

The authors in Part 4 examine the Latino/a experience in higher education. In Chapter 6, the authors provide demographic data regarding the increase in the Latina/o population in the United States and compare and contrast this generation of students with those before it across different categories, such as enrollment, parents' education, family structure and size, religion, technology, motivation, goals and aspirations, career objectives, and civic engagement.

In Chapter 7, the authors use the Howe and Strauss (2000) framework to demonstrate how findings from two studies on Latino/o college students parallel and diverge from the seven characteristics of millennials. In addition, they offer useful insights on how generation status (from an immigrant perspective) can be more useful than generational theory as a predictive theory.

Part 5 focuses on Native American millennial college students. Chapter 8 documents the challenges that Indigenous students face in higher education: a lack of academic preparation, inadequate finances, few higher education faculty as role models, cultural differences between their native home and the university setting, and institutional barriers. Chapter 9 places the millennial generation of Native American college students in a historical context. Examined in some depth are the boarding school era, tribal colleges, and Native American students' entrance into predominantly White institutions. Complementing this history are the influences of the gaming industry, Native American students organizations, and the role of Native American studies.

The angle of the book changes from race and ethnicity to sexual orientation in Part 6. In Chapter 10, the authors update perspectives on LGBTQ college students by examining the limits and constraints of terminology, the role of the media in more accurately portraying the LGBTQ community and in enlightening society, the significance and complexities of intersecting identities, and the programs and policies needed to support LGBTQ students' experience on campus. In Chapter 11, through the use of a fictional dialogue between two students and through examining queer and Black feminist theories, the authors interrogate "classic" identity development theories for LBGTQ millennial students and call for theories that acknowledge multiple identities and intersections.

Part 7 of the book addresses the complexity of bi/multiracial millennials in college. The author of Chapter 12 takes on the weighty topic of multiracialization. Using popular media (e.g., movies and celebrities), the author provides insights on how the image of being multiracial is often viewed positively; however, multiracial millennials still encounter challenges (e.g., objectification) and assumptions (i.e., race as apolitical and something from the past).

The author of Chapter 13 analyzes multiracial college students through the lens of millennial characteristics. She focuses on varying perceptions of multiracial millennials as special, sheltered, confident, and pressured. The analysis closes with a discussion of peer culture, identity politics, and academic engagement, as well implications for institutional data, student organizations, and academic initiatives.

The final part of the book includes two chapters on millennials of color with each chapter being structured around a theoretical framework, a case study analysis, and recommendations. Chapter 14 examines millennials' expectations of the workforce and vice versa. Chapter 15 highlights the diverse learning preferences of millennials and the consequent curriculum design decisions.

The book's title and introduction lead readers to approach the book with two expectations. The first is an examination of each constituency through the millennial generation framework, offering new insights on the diversity of the millennial generation of college students and a critical analysis of the framework itself. The second expectation is innovative recommendations for faculty and for student affairs practitioners. On both counts, we found the book uneven.

Concerning our first expectation, several chapters rarely employed (or mentioned) the millennial generation framework in their analyses. Instead, they discussed and described these constituencies through various other—albeit thought-provoking—lenses. At times, we found ourselves agreeing that a chapter was intriguing and informative, but we were not convinced of its place in this book. Again, an overview of the book's contents might have given the chapters some context from the editors' perspective. With respect to the second expectation, we found that, while many authors offered implications and recommendations that were forward-thinking and specific to their analysis and to the constituency they wrote about, others were unimaginative or vague in their recommendations.

Diverse Millennial Students in College can be a very useful resource for graduate students, practitioners, and scholars seeking current demographics and perspectives on diverse constituencies of college students. With few exceptions, each chapter offers useful insights and ways of thinking about students today from diverse and in-depth perspectives. On this point we find that the book works effectively as a collection of thought-provoking expositions on the diversity of today's college student. [End Page 123]


Howe, N., & Strauss, W. (2000). Millennials rising: The next great generation. New York: Vintage Press.

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  • Library users -- Effect of technological innovations on -- United States.
  • Bonner, Fred A. -- Diverse millennial students in college: implications for faculty and student affairs. -- 314485
  • Howard-Hamilton, Mary F. -- 314485
  • Marbley, Aretha Faye. -- 314485
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