What you need to know about 'post-millennials'

March 27, 2018

A mid-morning Monday session presented by Leesa Beck, University Registrar, and Alexis Wright, Financial and Work Study Analyst, at the University of California-Santa Barbara, highlighted the characteristics of post-millennial students, known as iGen. Beck and Wright noted that iGen students were born after 1995, and were shaped by the following factors:

  • Technology (iGen students are digital natives)
  • Exposure to Diversity (since 2011, less than half of the babies born in the United States have been non-Hispanic, and iGen students are more likely to have classmates who are gay and transgender)
  • The Great Recession (many iGen students saw their parents or friends’ parents lose their job and/or homes during the recession)
  • 9/11 (the war on terror is a constant reality)
  • Social Media (iGen students share personal lives on social media but are not necessarily personally connected. These students favor more secure social platforms that enable them to be more anonymous)
  • GenX Parents: (iGen students don’t have the same level of involvement with their parents but are still strongly connected)

Beck and Wright noted the expectations campuses should have for iGen students in terms of classroom communities; social-cultural tolerance and awareness; attention span; attitudes toward risk; college majors and careers; and communication.

Classroom communities: iGen students are the “techno-nerd” generation.  Campuses will need to consider how to develop new learning tools and how to adapt traditional teaching styles.

Social media: Privacy will need to be redefined, as iGen students have different social norms and comfort with public information.

Socio-cultural tolerance and awareness: iGen students have broad social awareness; recognize intersectionality and individuality (and dislike labels); and are social-justice minded.

Attention span: It takes more to get the initial attention of the iGen, but once they are interested, they are focused. They are motivated by social conscience and the desire to not let others down. They are also “makers,” preferring to learn through YouTube how to do new things and purchase products that enable creativity and self-sufficiency.

Attitudes toward risk: They are very risk-adverse.  Due to constantly reading social media posts, they find it harder to interpret others’ intentions (they consider: are you just telling me what you want me to hear?). They are waiting longer to date and have sex and are doing less of both. They would rather save than spend and are concerned about college debt and future earnings.

College majors/careers: iGen students want to be employable and are likely to choose majors that will clearly lead to a career, such as in a STEM field. They see co-curricular activities as part of their total education package and are interested in those that allow networking and skill building. They desire stability and financial security, and are interested in politics.

Communication: Campuses should try to meet iGen students where they are at; for example, text, apps, and social media are better communication tools for this generation than email. iGen students like messages to be short and sweet (bullet points), and find pictures impactful. Authentcity in communication is important to iGen students.