Move over Millennials, Generation Z is coming to college

More students seek financial stability from their degrees

A Barnes & Noble College (BNC) survey of 13- to 18-year-olds says the next generation of college students is composed of hyper-connected digital natives who want different things out of higher ed than previous generations.  

BNC surveyed 1,300 middle-school and high school students in 49 states to produce a new report on how Generation Z—defined as people born approximately between 1990 and 2000—prefers to learn, communicate, and collaborate. The survey also probed Generation Z's values and how they perceive higher education fitting into their lives.

More than 89% of respondents said college is valuable and 82% planned to go directly from high school to college.  But Generation Z seems to be interested in college for different reasons than Millennials overall.

According to the report, Generation Z is both more practical and more driven by financial concerns than the previous generation. While Millennials tend to desire jobs that are personally fulfilling, Generation Z emphasized finding a job that provided financial stability.

Generation Z embraces technology as a tool more than Millennials. Most respondents said they regularly used five different electronic devices for their social and educational needs. And more than 40% said they currently used digital textbooks, online videos, and learning websites like Khan Academy to help them with their studies.

Students automatically look to their phones for help. Make sure they find your resources there

Generation Z is also more interested in careers in technology, such as computer science and video game development, whereas Millennials are more interested in education and health care.

For all their love of technology, Generation Z prefers face-to-face learning. Around 65% said class discussion was the most helpful tool for learning. And 80% said they like to study in groups with friends and classmates, with 50% of this group noting that they appreciated the leadership opportunities presented by group study sessions. Opportunities for hands-on interactive learning were also popular among respondents (Barnes & Noble College report, accessed 1/8; Malat, eCampus News, 1/7).

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