“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.
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.
Internet is Not an Amenity, it is an Expectation
K-12 students are digital natives from their toddler years. Access to technology is all they’ve known.
At school, they continuously learn and master an ever-expanding array of tools, seeking a learning experience that models the real world – a world in which work and play go hand in hand.
Spoiled for choice and armed with a constant feedback loop online, our kids see a problem and don’t hesitate to take matters into their own hands. As a mother of two college-age children, I’ve seen how students bombard social media and explore off-campus housing options if they are unhappy with their school’s internet and video amenities. My daughter left her residential hall because the lack of Wi-Fi was a major hassle.
The 2020s are beckoning, and a new normal is taking shape in the fiercely-competitive Northeastern higher education landscape. According to the report “Knocking at the College Door,” the states of Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont could see 65,000 fewer students coming through the educational pipeline and moving into higher education by 2028. As a result, graduating high school classes, which will be smaller than the classes of today, will likely be targeted for student recruitment from institutions in neighboring states looking to offset their declines.