Monday, February 17, 2014

Dr. Faulkner: Millennials

During the SACS COC annual meeting in December, I was able to hear a key note address by Neil Howe.  He is co-author of a book titled Millennials Go to College.  Just the other day, Carol Bazenet shared a web site with me about the PreparedU Project of Bentley University. It examines millennials in the workplace.  By 2020 members of the millennial generation will make up 50% of the workforce.  You may remember that Ron Harris discussed the millennial generation during our recent professional development on generational differences.  These are people that were born after 1982.  A majority of our students fall into this category.

There are many interesting characteristics of this generation.  They are the children of late starting baby boomers or members of Generation X.  These folks are the most protected generation of children having been brought up during the “Baby on Board” era.  “Barney and Friends” which emphasized team work stole the limelight form “Sesame Street” and “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” which emphasized individuality.  This generation also saw the emergence of the “helicopter parents.” Neil Howe says, “Don’t be fooled. They aren’t helicopter parents, they are stealth fighter parents.”

Another characteristic of the millennial generation is their concentration on career and life balance and their expectation that college will prepare them for a job.  According to the Bentley project an overwhelming majority (78%) expect college to prepare them for a job.   Research by STAMATS (a higher ed consulting firm) revealed that job preparation is the number one concern of millennials and their parents when choosing a college.

As we work with these students and their parents, we need to keep these unique characteristics in mind.  We need to tailor our marketing and outreach to include elements that appeal to this demographic.  We need to remember this when we advise students and help them plan for their eventual graduation.  We need to acknowledge that the task most student hire us to do is to provide them with the knowledge, skills, and credentials to get a job.

-Dr. Jerry Faulkner

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