What Does Generation Z Value? Here Are 16 Things!

In the recent webinar, New Generation, New Expectations: Retaining Generation Z in Higher Education, Capture Higher Ed marketing expert, Sean Hill, used research compiled by two professors at Southeast Missouri State University to discuss what Gen Z wants from their college experience.

The article, “Reaching and Retaining the Next Generation: Adapting to the Expectations of Gen Z in the Classroom,” was written by SMSU’s Dana Schwieger and Christine Ladwig and published last year in Information Systems Education Journal.

“The research was quite diverse, drawing on studies by corporations, schools, think tanks and more,” Hill says during the introduction. He centered much of his webinar discussion around the 16 characteristics of Gen Z revealed in the paper. “What follows is the findings of these different studies and how education can be shaped around a series of characteristics — the 16 or so characteristics that define Generation Z. Of course, several of these characteristics are going to overlap.”

What does Generation Z value?

  1. Students see technology and creativity as important and intersecting aspects of their identity. 
  1. An Entrepreneurial Spirit. The idea of being self-educated and self-sufficient leads Gen Z to the entrepreneurial spirit: “I’ll do it myself.”
  1. Gen Z values employers that provide equal opportunity for pay and promotion.   
  1. Being Goal Oriented. Gen Z wants to make a decent living working for a stable employer and have already started making plans for the future.
  1. Hands-On Experiences. A study found that 78% of students (and 77% of teachers) felt Gen Z learns best by hands-on experiences.
  1. High Expectations. They have high expectations about what they think the future should be, according to research. They have a desire to make things better, including the environment, equity issues, social justice, etc.
  1. Gen Z “lives in a world of continuous updates,” one study reported. Multitasking comes naturally to them. 
  1. Personalized Micro experiences. These concepts apply to online shopping as well as the consumption of educational resources.
  1. They know life will not be easy. Research found 71% said they are likely to experience significant failure before success, and 40% view failure as an opportunity to try again. 
  1. Being Self-Informed. They lean toward learning what they want to know on their own.
  1. Self-Reliance. Gen Z relies on self-service tools to do research rather than interacting with an expert, one study found.
  1. Being Skill-Focused. Gen Zers realize the importance of building skills at a young age. They’re being taught this in school and they’re seeing it online.
  1. Social Media Connections. Their experience with social media may lead Gen Z to be interested in narratives and content using real people with realistic themes. 
  1. Gen Z reacts to immersive storytelling where media companies collaborate with tech companies to integrate programming with what’s called the “Internet of Things” devices.
  1. A study found that 18% of U.S. Gen Z respondents thought that their caretaker’s work experience — the Gen X generation that went through the 2008 “Great Recession — had a very or somewhat negative impact on the trust that they themselves would place in a future employer. 
  2. Workplace Advancement. If Gen Z is going to work for employers at all, they want the opportunity for promotion.

Go here to listen to the entire 45-minute webinar, which offers helpful insights for recruiters and admissions personnel as well as those who design the college curriculum itself. By adapting to the needs of this upcoming generation and their future employers, colleges can remain stakeholders in the conversation.

By Kevin Hyde, Senior Content Writer, Capture Higher Ed