Every ten years or so, we as leaders in academia, must reassess our approach to students. Every ten years or so, a new generation of student enters our schoolhouse. Every ten years or so, we have to force evolution in order to truly adapt to these new generations. The question is, have you undergone this progression since Generation Z began to enter your institution? If not, it is time!
Now age 18-22, the first few students of Generation Z have begun to trickle into the higher education space. Should we hope to recruit and enroll these students, there are some crucial characteristics we must understand. Furthermore, we must adapt some of our approach to meet these students where they exist, discarding old practices that no longer work with these pupils. Generation Z is a motivated, entrepreneurial cohort that demands information on demand, a high return on investment, and are considered digital natives. They are fiscally responsible, require well thought-out, relevant education, and are loyal to their own growth, first and foremost. This group of students has a strong work ethic and is motivated by monetary growth. At the same time, they are always considering global impact, diversity, and greatly appreciate the story and/or mission behind something. With all of this in mind, it is time, perhaps, to change our approach at recruiting and enrolling them.
Some things to consider….
Gone are the days of shrugging off questions about price, schedule, and start dates in an admissions call. It will not work anymore! This generation of student expects information at their fingertips. That’s right. It is time to put that stuff online! With changes in the buying cycle, it is crucial that you are providing students the information they seek in an easy, accessible place. If they can’t find it, they will just move on! I am not in this generation and I am the same way. If I can’t find what I need easily online, I move on to the next vendor. It is that simple.
2. Tell a story with your advertising
This group of students is all about the story. They want to see how you impact lives. They want to see how you can impact their life. This cluster of students looks at social media differently than other generations. They look at it as a means to tell their story. Curate their own history. They want the same from you. Your advertising should be focusing on the narrative of your school and students. Not necessarily the superficial façade of buildings and classrooms.
3. Show them the value!
Generation Z demands a high return on investment. This generation values a trades education in a way that we have not seen for some time. Why is that? Career college is typically a shorter amount of time to completion. This means they can get to work faster! Focus on that. Show them the path. Show them how to get to their career faster and show them the opportunities that career can lead to!
4. Communicate through social media (Snapchat and Instagram)
I get it. I really do. Social media is the bane of my existence and something I have to force myself to do in order to reach all of you fine folks. However, it IS where Generation Z communicates best. Your school should have an Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. Not only should you have them, but you should be using them to communicate to prospective students. Students no longer reply to email, they certainly don’t want to pick up the phone, and let’s be honest…. they don’t really love to text either. Instead they communicate through DM (direct message) in their social apps. So, get with it! You can still monitor admissions through this method, as long as they are using a corporate account to communicate.
5. Sell the experience and the goal, not the program
As mentioned earlier, Generation Z wants to purchase an experience or story from you, not a program. Similar to Millennials, this group of students wants more than an education. They want to add to their journey. They want school to be a place where they embrace overall, holistic growth, not just mastery of content. So, share THAT experience. Sell your school culture. Sell the journey and help students envision what their experience will look like. THAT is how you show them what you offer.
So, there you have it. It’s time to make some changes folks. If you are ready to enroll more students, enhance your school culture, and ultimately change more lives, it may be time for an evolution. Need some help? Turns out, I am for hire and would love to visit your school! 😊