Generation Z Goes to College

By Sarah Greene

This past fall term, Academic Affairs and Student Affairs personnel formed a book discussion group to read Corey Seemiller’s and Meghan Grace’s recent publication, Generation Z Goes to College.  The group aimed to learn about the newest generation of college students, Generation Z, and discuss ways they might best serve them.

Both Seemiller and Grace are higher education professionals.  Seemiller has a 20 year career in higher education and is currently an assistant professor at Wright State University.  Grace is a student affairs professional at the University of Arizona.

The book identifies Generation Z as those individuals born in or after 1995.  Seemiller and Grace conducted a study between August and October of 2014 to survey Generation Z students at fifteen partner institutions.  The study did have limitations.  It used a relatively small sample size, and each participating institution selected the students who would be surveyed.  Some of the generalizations made about Generation Z in the book need to be considered in relation to these limitations.

Despite these limitations, the book gives a good overview of this generation.  It covers topics related to their beliefs and attitudes about social media, relationships with parents and friends, careers and the purpose of higher education, economic self-sufficiency, and global citizenry.  Seemiller and Grace offer suggestions on how higher education might adapt to serving the needs of this generation.  Chapters 9 and 10 explicitly address the kinds of changes needed to maximize success with Generation Z.  Chapters 2 – 4 provides an overview of their beliefs, desires, and their relationship to technology.  If you have never heard of Snapchat, or don’t understand why students expect an immediate response to an email they sent a 1 a.m., these are the chapters to read.

Generation Z Goes to College is an easy read providing a good, general overview of this generation of college students.  If you want to dig more into Generation Z and the differences between them and other generations, I recommend the work of Marc Prensky.