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Generation Z: The 21st Century Learner

Generation Z is 72 million strong. They’re diverse and multicultural, with 48 percent identifying as non-Caucasian. They’re open-minded and inclusive. They value authenticity and are extremely resourceful, with 13 percent already operating their own businesses.

Most important, Gen Z has never known life without the Internet, social media, or digital devices. They want information in milliseconds and don’t have the attention span to wait. This yearning for immediacy drives how they learn and what they expect from their education.

College-bound and beyond.

Research into Gen Z finds that 82 percent intend to pursue further education after high school – either in the form of a four-year university, community college, or trade school program. Certificate programs are equally desirable among these hurry-up-and-learn-it-fast students.

Gen Z is also behind the increasingly popular idea of taking a Gap Year before starting college. The lure can be the romanticism of world travel, the altruism of volunteer work, or simply some extra time to figure out what they really want from their life and college career.

Hands-on, online learners.

These students are actually in alignment with many of today’s adult learners. They want to be able to learn digitally and collaborate virtually, from wherever they are. Online degrees make perfect sense to them.

In traditional classrooms, Gen Z students are active learners. They like to participate in discussions and have hands-on experiences. You might see this in your own curriculum, with less lecturing and more learning by doing.

Ready for tomorrow.

Whatever their interests, this group understands the value of marketable skills. Concepts and theory are fine, but the ability to hit the ground running is more important by far. Gen Z wants to leave college with a demonstrable portfolio that showcases their talent to future employers.

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