Everything You Need to Know About Generation Z

To help you get a handle on the latest generation of college students, YouVisit spoke with Corey Seemiller, director of research & assessment at OrgSync. Seemiller has researched Generation Z and is in the middle of completing a study on this increasingly important group of students.

Generation Z are students born after 1995. Members of this generation are just now starting to enter colleges and universities. But if you think Generation Z is just an extension of Millennials, you’re wrong. There are many similarities between the two generation, but also many differences.

They Are True Digital Natives

The first thing most people note when they talk about Generation Z is the group’s use of technology. This is a characteristic they share with Millennials. But there is a difference between the two generations. While Millennials are tech savvy, having grown up with emerging technology, Generation Z is tech reliant, Seemiller said.

What does this mean? Members of Generation Z like to share their thoughts–even the most mundane–online, and take part in the construction knowledge.

Just don’t ask them to leave a voice message or read a long blog post. Generation Z gravitates toward shorter forms of communication, Seemiller said. Researchers have found that 50 percent of members of Generation Z send at least 50 texts each day. For these students–short and sweet is the key.

Generation We, Not Generation Me

More so than Millennials, Generation Z wants to collaborate; they want to share and be a part of a community.

“It’s just fascinating that this generation really, really wants to get to know people,” Seemiller said. “They are people who want to work in groups.”

This is something college admissions offices might need to consider when attempting to reach members of Generation Z. They are not passive content consumers–just telling students about a college or program isn’t enough, Seemiller said.

This could mean many things for higher ed institutions. Seemiller said colleges and universities need to engage Generation Z with information about what communities and activities they might be involved in at their school–especially through visual content.

“They want to be engaged,” Seemiller said. “They want to be a part of it.”

They Trust Their Friends and Family

Overall, Generation Z has a different relationship with authority than Millennials. The heroes and people that members of Generation Z trust are those who are close to them.

As an example, Seemiller said the biggest factor in Generation Z’s buying decisions is word of mouth recommendations.

“Generation Z wants to hear it from a friend,” she said. “They think the people around them can be trusted.”

Admissions offices should take note of this. To attract prospective students it will take more than flashy content, Seemiller said.

Seemiller pointed to The University of Arizona as an example. Seemiller, the former director of Leadership Programs at UA, said the university acted on this piece of information through an initiative that encouraged students to bring a friend along when they joined leadership programs.

They Are Practical

Generation Z is more realistic and pragmatic than Millennials. Generation Z grew up in an incredibly complex time in American history. While Millennials came of age in a time of excess, Generation Z witnessed the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the Great Recession.

While Millennials believed that they would graduate college, find a job, and prosper–Generation Z doesn’t necessarily believe this.

“They’ve seen the people around them not succeed,” Seemiller said. “They’ve watched their mom and dad lose their job.”

For colleges and universities, this means careful consideration of how they speak to members of Generation Z, and potentially discussing the pros and cons of attending a higher education institution, Seemiller said.

“They realize that (success) isn’t to be taken for granted,” Seemiller said.

Big Problems Require Big Solutions

One of the things that caught colleges off guard when Millennials started to matriculate was how much they liked, and pursued, community service. Generation Z also has a philanthropic streak, just not in the same way that Millennials do.

Because Generation Z was raised with social media and instant communication, they are more aware of global problems than Millennials. They still want to pursue social change, but not in the same way that Millennials did, Seemiller said.

“They want to eradicate hunger and poverty–they don’t’ want to work five hours at a food bank,” Seemiller said. “They want bigger change.”

To learn more about ways to capture the hearts and minds of Generation Z schedule a free consultation with our experts.

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