The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Generation Z

StudentBridge | January 04, 2016

It’s the beginning of 2016, and members of the Millennial Generation have walked through the doors of your college as freshmen and are out in the “real world” beginning their professional careers. But as one group begins the transition to alumni, a new generation makes up your freshman class of 2016: Generation Z. And while many are quick to generalize these students to the likes of the proceeding Millennials, they are different in many ways.

  1. Don't assume they're Millennials -- One of the biggest pet peeves of Gen Z-ers is when older generations lump them in with Millennials. As you’ll learn throughout this post, there are many characteristics that distinguish them from their proceeding generation.
  2. They are proficient researchers -- Practically born with the Internet in their hands, Generation Z members know how to go out and find the answers to their questions. Whether it’s looking up YouTube tutorials on “How to Hit the Quan” to learn the newest dance trends, or looking to the Smithsonian’s website for a paper on the Civil War, these students know their way around the web.
  3. They're the first generation that is truly tech-native -- While Millennials grew up with computers, mobile devices and other technology, Generation Z is the first generation that can’t remember a world without it. In fact, the majority of this generation was born after the first iMac computer was released.
  4. They believe in balance -- Members of Generation Z have seen their parents travel for work, work long hours, and have little to no work-life balance. They are determined to change this. But, contrary to popular belief, they don’t want to all start their own company.
  5. They multi-task -- Before you go out and say that there’s no such thing as truly multitasking, Generation Z doesn’t truly multitask. In fact, they actually have an 8-second attention span that acts as a filter. So if you can’t grab their attention in that time frame, they are going to move onto something else.
  6. They demand authenticity -- Gone are the days of glossy advertisements. Generation Z believes in authenticity because they’ve grown up with celebrities communicating through social media, as an example.
  7. They're a diverse generation -- Generation Z members are more diverse than any other generation before them. 44% of them are part- or fully a minority race. This is important to consider when recruiting them, and also extremely important when looking at how your institution treats minority races. 
  8. They know how to build a personal brand -- While they are not yet the first generation to have no memory of a time without social media, they were raised with it. They understand the importance of their brand on social media, and developing a personal style through their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages.