Inc. is one of my favorite magazines to read. A recent article particularly intrigued me—it focused on the difference between Generation Z and Millennials and noted that 40% of Generation Z said that working Wi-Fi was more important to them than working bathrooms. How quickly the world has changed. I got to thinking about our nearly 15-year partnership with Ithaca College, and how Wi-Fi is now playing an increasingly important role on campuses. If you visit Ithaca today, you’ll find a world-class Wi-Fi network enjoyed by students, teachers, and guests for everything, everywhere.
Move-in is historically a difficult time for students returning to campus and dealing with the logistics of moving into residence halls, finding classroom buildings, acquiring textbooks, connecting to campus WiFi, and generally facing the post-summer blues that arise with the first day of the fall semester. But move-in also signals exciting changes. It’s a chance for students to reconnect with friends they haven’t seen in months, get involved on campus, and launch themselves into academics and new research. At Michigan State University, Fall also signals exciting events such as Sparticipation, the campus-wide student organization fair in which over 600 organizations organize to recruit new members and communicate information about their clubs.
“Generation Z”: the still-mysterious yet wildly important generation that has worked its way into the Higher Ed sphere. While their predecessors, the Millennials, are “the most researched generation in history” according to Vision Critical, we’re still figuring out how Gen Z will behave in the real world, and how their departure from the Millennial mentality will affect Higher Education operations.
I was intrigued by an October 2016 blog post in Inside Higher Ed titled “Still Waiting for Recovery.” It reports on a Campus Computing survey which finds that nearly a decade after the financial crisis began, many college and university IT officers note their budgets still haven’t recovered. They say the combination of budget cuts and ongoing demands for new services, top professionals and the latest technology is putting them in a tough position.
The 2017 undergraduate lives and breathes social media. Walking around campus, studying in the library, eating in the dining hall, checking out the A cappella show, and (gasp!) even in class, students are checking Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. YouTube is the logical next step for the student who’s trying to craft the school’s most stellar Halloween costume, and the computer science student who can’t handle his school’s network speeds will naturally escalate his complaints to Twitter.
During the past decade, sweeping technological innovations and student demands began rapidly outpacing traditional educational methods. The impacts of these changes have continued to expand and academic and residential networks across college campuses have felt the pressure rise.