If you've heard us speak recently at a conference or on your campus, you know we're giving some major side-eye to GenerationX parents on tour.
The Heathers (note: video is NSFW, as are GenX parents) is a great comparison to the GenX moms touring your campus, and carnage can ensue when they are irritated. In a recent Huffington Post essay, The Hair-Pulling Madness Of The Campus Tour, one GenX mom rants and laments:
"But I pity the next yahoo tour guide fool who tells me it will be awesome, seamless, or free. They are going to see what a forty-six year old ninja looks like."
WHOA. Insert shocked emoji here.
So, what exactly is their problem?! What are the reasons behind this aggressive tenor and tone? In short: overexposure to marketing spin and an inherent lack of trust.
You've got to educate yourself on this generation of GenX parents and their Homeland/GenZ children. Admission staff and tour guides need to be empowered to be transparent and authentic in their responses to difficult GenX questions. But most of all, we need to find a way to (politely) toss difficult questions back to today's aggressive parents. Humor can be a great defense to break the ice on a difficult question.
Example: Recently, at one of our campuses, a parent asked, "Where do students have sex on campus?" (Like, what? Why?!) The tour quickly and smartly repied, "Well, that chair you're sitting is is popular!" The parent smiled and chuckled.
The follow-up is asking clarifying questions. In this instance, what did that parent really want to know? Resources for sexual education on campus? Is the student body sexually conservative or liberal? Who knows. But tour guides and staff need to follow-up seemingly odd questions with a "Tell me more" or "Can you tell me why you're asking that?" In order to answer an oddball question, you need to get to the heart of what's really being asked.
TL;DR - to connect with GenX, you need to cut through they hype, get to the point and be honest.
And now, the fun part! Education about GenX for you and your staff:
- Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture - Douglas Coupland shares insights about GenX and gives them their moniker
- X Saves the World, How Generation X got the shaft but still keeps everything from sucking - an insightful rant by Jeff Gordiner
- Generation X - National Geographic Channel documentary
- Watch any movie by writer/director John Hughes
(Special thanks to longterm client, friend, and fellow GenX "Xpert" Kevin Kropf, Executive Vice President of Enrollment Management at Drury University, for first sending the HuffPo essay our way. We're on high alert watching out for Ninja Mom now and promise to intervene in any life-threatening situations for tour guides.)