Editor’s note: Wendy Briley, an independent educational consultant and owner of Briley College Consulting, shares why it’s critical for teens to find their purpose.
You’ve heard the terms Generation X and Millennials. Now we have Generation Z. What do we as parents, educators and counselors need to know about this group of students to help them navigate the college application process?
Recently I listened to a webinar presented by Corey Seemiller, co-author of the book “Generation Z Goes to College.” In their book, Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace studied more than 2,000 students and asked them very open-ended questions about their experiences and concerns.
According to Seemiller and Grace, understanding this generation begins with understanding their experiences. These students grew up during the Great Recession, and many of their families were affected. After witnessing their parent’s worries about money, many of these students worry about the cost of college.
They also are children who have grown up in a world post Sept. 11th. To them, it is a scary world. Kids are now able to witness tragedy in real time. With the advent of 24/7 news, they are exposed to so much. For many, the thought of moving far away from home and the security of their family is not something they want to consider.
Gen Z cares deeply about social issues, specifically around inclusion, diversity and social justice. However, they live in a world where civil discourse seems to have disappeared and they do not understand the decisions that politicians are making.
Finally, these students live in a world where technology allows them to have 24/7 access to virtually anything they want. “Higher education is one of the last institutions that is not available 24/7,” Seemiller said. These students are not accustomed to slowing down and planning ahead.
For those of us working with students who are applying to college, the challenge will be understanding these experiences and teaching them the value of a college education. Many students now are able to obtain internships directly out of high school. While some students see how fast technology is moving and worry that their major will be obsolete by the time they graduate, Seemiller says, “We have to change the message of what colleges are for.”
According to Seemiller and Grace, the value in a college experience has three key components.
1. It is a great practice laboratory of what a student wants to do.
2. The ability to make professional connections and network is invaluable.
3. College provides the opportunity to develop students holistically.
Skills acquired in college, including the ability to write and communicate effectively and live with others, are skills that will benefit a student for a lifetime and can’t be acquired anywhere else.