generation z

Here’s what higher-ed leaders should know about Generation Z students

Generation Z students have formed their higher-ed expectations in the wake of growing up with ubiquitous technology access

Members of Generation Z say they vastly prefer video as a learning method, according to a new study that outlines similarities and differences among these learning and Millennials.

Beyond Millennials: The Next Generation of Learners, from Pearson and The Harris Poll, notes that Generation Z students, ages 14-23, have had their educational expectations shaped by technology in more ways than Millennials, ages 24-40.

Generation Z ranked YouTube second only to teachers as a learning tool. In fact, YouTube is ranked well ahead of lectures, in-person collaboration with classmates, learning applications, and books.

As much as Generation Z has embraced technology for social engagement, they very much still value an on-campus education experience. Compared to Millennials, 45 percent of whom seek out as many online courses as possible, only 26 percent of younger students say they would prefer taking as many online courses as possible.

Generation Z and Millennials both rank teachers and professors as the top influencers for their personal development (78 percent and 80 percent respectively)–higher than parents and their peers.

Despite growing questions around the value of college and return on investment in tuition, just 25 percent of Generation Z students say they believe they can have a rewarding career without going to college, compared to 40 percent of Millennials.

Eighty percent of Generation Z respondents and 74 percent of Millennials agree that college either has a fair amount of value, is a good value, or is an excellent value. Only 20 percent of Generation Z students and 26 percent of Millennials said college has “little value” or “no value at all.”

By a margin of more than 20 percent, Generation Z respondents are more likely to say they want to make it to the top of their future profession one day versus Millennials. The group is also very altruistic, and 60 percent of Generation Z respondents agreed that they want to help people less fortunate, compared to 48 percent of Millennials. Diversity is another important value–more than 6 in 10 Generation Z respondents agree that having diverse friends makes them a better person, while slightly more than half of Millennials agree with that statement.

Laura Ascione