Generation Z students have set themselves apart from millennials and Gen X in more ways than just their comfort-level with technology. The young, pragmatic generation’s attitude about education and debt is changing the educational landscape. Here’s what you need to know.
Gen Z students look to minimize debt
From recessions to having the internet at their fingertips, Gen Z had different childhood experiences than millennials or Gen X. This difference is reflected in the group’s priorities. They recognize the value of education but are extremely hesitant about taking on debt, knowing how it can impact their lives. This juxtaposition means that today’s students overwhelmingly plan to attend college, but they intend to do it with as little debt as possible.
According to research by Barnes & Noble College, 82% of Gen Z students plan to enter college directly from high school, and 89% rate a college education as valuable. They view higher education as an essential part of their future success. However, financial stability is also important to them.
This debt-averse group is less inclined than other generations to take out student loans. 63% said they would possibly take on student debt. But unlike Gen X and millennials, Gen Z will do everything in its power to minimize the amount of debt they incur. In fact, almost 25% of Gen Z students plan to pay for their education with personal savings, and 40% intend to work during college.
The impact of Gen Z on campus
How does Gen Z’s point of view manifest in its behavior?
When selecting schools, students will heavily factor in tuition costs against the future job market. They will research schools and look for student reviews. They will want assurances that attending your school will help them get a better job after graduation.
They are also more sensitive to additional costs, like course materials. Whether that means waiting until three weeks after classes start to purchase materials, dropping classes because the textbook is too expensive or just going without the book, expect Generation Z to be resourceful when it comes to finding ways to save money.
How to support Gen Z students
Beyond current financials concerns, Gen Z is looking to the future. Expect these students to care a great deal about career services. In a poll of 2017 college graduates, 88% said they considered job availability when choosing a major. The skills recent graduates most want to develop are in communications, problem-solving and management. Finding ways to help career-minded students develop these skills prior to entering the workforce will strengthen the student’s relationship with the college.
Another way to support Gen Z students is to learn how to communicate with them. This group of students grew up in a connected world. Keep your messages to them clear, concise and focused. Also, update the technology students interact with to make information more accessible, but don’t just rely on technology. Gen Z values face-to-face meetings and mentorships more than their millennial predecessors.