Over the years there have been many articles on the difference between the generations. You know the articles I am referring to like who are Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. Well, I am about to add to those articles with one of my own about Generation Z (Gen Z). Why is this important? They are graduating and headed into the workforce. As educators, there are three things you will need to know about Gen Z:
They are the true digital generation. This is the group that came of age post- 9/11 with digital access 24/7 and an attention span of 8 seconds. Your take away is to be ready and think mobile. They want to be able to fill out the institutional forms or register for classes on their mobile devices. They have not tethered a laptop or desktop. Don’t forget, the Department of Education rolled out a mobile-friendly version of this FAFSA. As ED becomes more innovative in their approach, how will your office keep up? Perhaps an online portal with self-service documents that is student specific, chat capability, etc.
They are the most socially conscious generation. They care about diversity, individuality, and inclusion. What this means for you is that you should give them innovative classes that allow them to volunteer. The more you offer them opportunities to serve the community and have community-based programs focused on solving problems; you will be tapping into their core values. Do not be shy in showcasing your community service outreach programs at your campus. Bottom line, you will attract and retain the best and most talented individuals.
They are poised to be the most entrepreneurial generation. They are self-starters and have no fear of taking control of their careers. The entrepreneurial spirit was forged by watching their parent struggle with finances during the recession and coming of age during the era of start-ups, like Uber. Also, we have to give credit to social media because creating and promoting their own content is easy and very accessible. When assigning job tasks or assignments, allow for flexibility and develop projects which allow them to work on their own without a lot of supervision.
I imagine the ways to deliver information regarding financial aid literacy will evolve, too. We will use more imagery, symbols or graphs– less text, personalize communication, and make information actionable, and videos or recordings to break down complicated tasks into smaller pieces. Generation Z will have high expectations from their college and company, but so will we. They are masters of technology; if you have it, they will use it.