The Digital Natives: Getting To Know Generation Z

The Digital Natives: Getting To Know Generation Z

Capture Higher Ed kicked off its inaugural enrollment technology conference, Jan. 16-17, with a keynote presentation by Ryan Jenkins, an internationally recognized speaker on Millennials and Generation Z. Jenkins offered some fascinating insights on attracting, recruiting and retaining Gen Z, the new generation of prospective college students.

Recruiting Generation Z
Ryan Jenkins

Who: Generation Z
20 and under
How Many: About 50+ million in the U.S.

Generation Z members are realistic, independent and digital natives, according to Jenkins. They are a mobile, boundary-less and video-centric generation. They leverage the Internet to contribute, be heard (think Twitter) and hack work/life.

They are “mobile first,” Jenkins says, and reach for associated options (think Alexa and Google Voice). They also are highly visual — 54 percent of them visit YouTube multiple times per day.

Generation Z members are global citizens, as they have a lot in common with people their age across the world. They enjoy “role-hopping” as opposed to “job-hopping” … because they want varied experiences, Jenkins says. They enjoy mobile, virtual reality and augmented reality for learning, personal and professional experiences.

Generation Z also prefers on-demand learning (think Udemy) versus formal education. They actually question if formal education is really worth it, or if it’s a mistake, according to Jenkins. So much so that 75 percent of them believe there are other ways of getting a good education than going to college.

Furthermore, 67 percent indicate their top concern is being able to afford college. Avoiding debt at all costs is a priority, Jenkins says.

Generation Z places a premium on entrepreneurship, innovation and DIY. That’s why 72 percent feel they should have the right to design their own college majors, and 63 percent think entrepreneurship should be taught in college, Jenkins says.

In general, Generation Z members are self-starters, self-motivators and self-learners.

What do they want?

Generation Z members prefer real-time, transparent and collaborative communication. The key word here is transparency. They respond to honest, transparent and authentic messaging (like Cedric here sharing his thoughts on growing up Black & Korean).

Generation Z expects and prefers to approach work differently, thanks to technology. They grew up with technology at their fingertips; it’s truly a part of their daily lives, Jenkins says. Forty-three percent of them prefer a digital approach to learning and find it easiest to learn from the Internet. More than 50 percent even say it’s easier or more convenient to chat digitally.

Their communication has and will continue to be shaped by technology (think Instagram, Bitmoji, Facetime, GroupMe, YouTube).

Final thoughts on Gen Z:

For colleges and universities that are targeting Generation Z students, it is important to use videos and visuals to help them visualize being at your college or university (like this video that has garnered over 600,000 views about a day in the life of Claire, a student-athlete at Yale University.

Jenkins recommends using technology to shift Gen Z’s relationship with college from feeling like a material purchase to an experiential purchase.

Also know that Generation Z members are early adopters. They seek out opportunities to innovate. Getting ahead of the curve with the tools, technology, and platforms that they are interested in is crucial (think Snapchat).

Generation Z members are contributors looking for an active role. They want to make a real and immediate impact in the world around them. They desire to make a difference making and enjoy diverse teamwork.

And remember: A “this is how we’ve always done it” mindset is a slippery slope to irrelevance. Be prepared to switch it up for an ever diverse, ever unique generation!

By Ashli Findley, Content Writer, Capture Higher Ed

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