How colleges should talk to Generation Z

April 20, 2018
  • Admissions and Recruitment
  • Social Media
  • Technology
  • Technology and Transfer
  • Admissions
  • social media
  • Technology
Headshot of Sheetal Patel.

Millennials have been dubbed “digital natives” by many journalists and cultural commentators, but that term may be more accurately used to describe the succeeding generation: Generation Z. That's according to Dr. Sheetal Patel, Associate Director and Content Lead for the Career Management Center at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

“Many millennials, born between 1980 and 1995, didn’t grow up in homes with personal computers,” Patel said. “Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2010, has had technology in their homes since they were born. They had computers, potentially laptops, and maybe even smartphones--which came around in 2007--during their childhood.”

Seamless integration

Unlike previous generations, Z is likely to use dozens of apps, and may regularly flip between different social media sites.

“They tend to see social media as fads,” Patel said. “For example, a few years ago, Vine was popular, then it went out. Snapchat and Insta are trending now, but who knows what will come next.”

This generation is also maturing alongside machine learning, AI and VR technologies, meaning they are more likely to expect individualized, integrated experiences between platforms.

Customized higher ed

Technology's ubiquitousness and ease of access changes how Gen Z thinks about and interacts with technology, and they’ll likely expect their higher education institution to be as tech-savvy as they are.

“Their experience and search results are customized based on their IP, geographic location, and cookies on their devices,” Patel said. “What does that mean for higher education -- admissions, technology and registrars? That they’ll expect the same experience from us.”

For example, the Registrar’s office might be expected to function like Google, Amazon, and Netflix -- recommending courses based on a student’s interest, major, and degree plan.

What other shifts might technology allow, and students demand, in the next ten years?

Learn more

For fourteen years, Patel has created engaging brands, marketing communication strategies, and stories that effectively impact people’s lives. Her recent research focuses on transforming learning and technology for Generation Z and brand management in higher education. Explore her on-point articles at LinkedIn: 3 Ways to Engage Generation Z and Generation Z is Trending.


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