Jason Seyler: Understand How Millennials Want to Be Educated

by Scott Reid

Higher education has become the necessary norm for Millennials. They know that they must participate in some type of higher education to ensure success in their future career.

They must be up to the challenge to compete with their peers, and institutions must be up to the challenge to recruit and retain them.

As Millennials age and move into leadership roles, higher education institutions must be willing to change the way they do things. Millennials know they can get similar degrees from any number of schools. They are looking for the experience, not the education.

Millennials are opting to stay in school for a longer period of time. They are going after master’s degrees and beyond more often than past generations. This makes sense, since additional schooling often leads to a higher salary.

The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators reported in 2006 that the three most discussed topics among Millennial students were mental health issues, parental involvement and social networking.

In the classroom, Millennials want online educational tools. They would like to complete general education credits online and have the opportunity to easily interact with professors and classmates virtually.

They value a collaborative environment. Working together on projects and assignments allows for networking, idea generation, and insight into other cultures. They want a similar environment with their teachers. Higher education needs to create an atmosphere where professors work together with their students. Millennials want to play a more active part in their own learning. The best way to achieve this is to speak directly to them and put away the tired PowerPoint slides. Get students more fully immersed in their work. Provide clear expectations, detailed instructions, and explicit syllabi. Explain the campus’s stance on academic integrity, intellectual ownership and dishonesty from the beginning.

Millennials are the smartest generation ever, as evidenced by rising proficiency in standardized tests. They are focused on achievement rather than personal development.

Outside of the classroom, Millennials are looking for a sense of community. They want to feel like they belong to a group, which will lead to higher retention. Develop campus rituals and traditions that build on this interaction. This can be achieved through group housing, centralized gathering locations, and leadership opportunities.

Social media is essential to keeping this community together. Offer social media groups where students can voice their concerns and opinions. Encourage them to create their own groups where they can share news, events and common interests.

A connection between the university is pivotal to maintaining the attention of Millennials. Give each prospective student a T-shirt with the school logo on their first visit. Hold events like tailgates, races, fundraisers, and festivals that will bring together the entire community as a whole.

More than 60 percent of Millennials report they are sleep deprived. They also convey high levels of stress and anxiety. Their generation excels at multi-tasking and believes it is the best method to get things done. On the other hand, they have trouble with time management and have zero tolerance for delays. Provide study areas that include the latest technology, relaxation aids and sustenance. Offer mental health counseling and skills training, including time management, study techniques and conflict resolution.

One of the biggest stressors is what will happen after graduation. Provide easy access to internship opportunities and career planning that stresses the long-term over short-term.

Encourage parental involvement throughout the process. Allow students to allow them as much or little as they choose by offering special events, communication channels, and ways for them to easily provide support (both financially and emotionally).

Ultimate profit for colleges comes from room and board. If the dorms, suites and housing do not regularly update to remain competitive, they will quickly lose heads in beds.

Living on campus is a major part of the “university experience.”  This will be one of the main things prospective students look for on campus tours. Once a Millennial has committed to a school, the campus and off-campus housing properties begin to compete for lease signings. Breaking away from the traditional dormitory style is imperative to attract Millennials’ attention.

Jason Seyler is the author of “Mastering Millennials: Understanding What Motivates Them and Causes Them to Take Action.” The book is is targeted toward professionals who want to understand the Millennial generation, specifically corporations that are trying to build brand loyalty and win the business of Millennials. The book is also geared toward bosses who are trying to calibrate their places of business among three distinct generations (Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millennials).

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