by Matt Mattson

I’ll just start this post with a direct recommendation: BUY THIS BOOK TODAY Generation Z Goes To College by Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace.

Here’s a quote from the description to start your learning…

“Generation Z is rapidly replacing Millennials on college campuses. Those born from 1995 through 2010 have different motivations, learning styles, characteristics, skill sets, and social concerns than previous generations. Unlike Millennials, Generation Z students grew up in a recession and are under no illusions about their prospects for employment after college. While skeptical about the cost and value of higher education, they are also entrepreneurial, innovative, and independent learners concerned with effecting social change. Understanding Generation Z’s mindset and goals is paramount to supporting, developing, and educating them through higher education.”

Understanding the motivators of this new generation is of utmost importance if you are at all involved with marketing the fraternity/sorority experience to them. This book is the most directly related text I’ve seen for our fraternal industry — one of the authors (Grace), in fact, works for a fraternity international headquarters!

We’ve been focused on Generation Z for a while now. We’re building marketing plans and strategies directly influenced by the emerging data on this newest collegiate generation.

There’s a lot still to uncover about this new generation, but here are some things that seem to be coming to light.

  • Blended: Their relationship to race and gender is far more fluid and blended than previous generations. The way we present a historically racially separated (and single gender) fraternity/sorority community will require critical analysis.
  • Creators: This generation is a group of creators. Nearly 1/2 expect to be their own boss, and around 40% plan to invent something that will change the world.
  • Pragmatic: These students have endured 9/11, multiple wars, and a major financial crisis during which they (or people around them) lost their homes. They seem to desire practical opportunities that will directly apply to their career ambitions. They seek stability and predictability.
  • Worldly: A large percentage of these students report having a close friend in a different country (thanks to their digital nativeness). Global lines of demarcation make less and less sense to them. Many have done international service-related travel. They care about large global issues (so they might not be impressed with your bake sale for a local charity).
  • Quick Judges: Because of the flood of information that they’ve experienced since birth, they’ve become wildly fast curators. Some have suggested that Gen Z students have an “8 Second Filter.” This is from a May, 2015 Fast Company article, “Gen Z have a carefully tuned radar for being sold to and a limited amount of time and energy to spend assessing whether something’s worth their time. Getting past these filters, and winning Gen Z’s attention, will mean providing them with engaging and immediately beneficial experiences.”
  • Seeking Personal Connection: Seemiller and Grace’s book suggests that face-to-face communication is, perhaps surprisingly, very important to this generation. That seems to be backed up by the aforementioned Fast Company article, “The majority of the people in our study also said that their ability to communicate clearly in person, specifically with older adults, was the number one skill that would ensure their future success. ‘I need to be able to look adults in the eye, give them a firm handshake and ask them how they’re doing,’ says Liam, 17.”

Marketing to this generation will take thoughtfulness and education. We’re working hard to know everything we can so that our marketing services and recruitment education are aimed directly at the needs and priorities of this generation — not those of the past.