The Generations Currently Touring Your Campus
No matter what you call them (iGeneration, Digital Natives, Centennials), you must know that the next generation of prospective students are creeping up on us.
POP CULTURE BREAK (because we’re big pop culture nerds at Render): Basically, history repeats itself. Battlestar Galactica said it best: “All this has happened before and all of this will happen again.” Every generation has its own boy bands, vampires, mean girls, and dystopian books/movies.
Render team members are also big American history nerds, and we are huge fans of Howe & Strauss. Their generational theory is definitely something to think about. (Click the link above to read a pretty comprehensive Wiki page on the theory).
Parent’s these days just don’t understand. Members of GenerationX are tough. Where we called Boomer parents helicopter, parents these days are stealth - you don’t hear them coming, they drop a bomb and fly away. The major takeaway about GenX parents is that they don’t trust institutions due to all the social upheaval in their youth and young adulthood. That’s a pretty tough battle to fight when you’re selling an institution that’s been around 150 years.
To battle their lack of trust, you can do a couple of things:
Cut through the hype and get to the point.
GenX doesn’t like spin. Answer questions honestly and directly.
Ask clarifying questions.
When a mom asks a tour guide “What’s there to do on the weekend?,” that’s usually mom-code for “What’s the party scene like?” But not always. Sometimes, you have to dig a little deeper on questions. A simple “Tell me more…” or “Can you tell me why you’re asking so I can better answer your question?” will make all the difference.
Use open-ended questions.
We’re all so guilty of asking “Do you have any questions?” when we meet with families. There are two answers to that question - “Yes” and “No.”
Now, their children: Homeland/GenerationZ. They’ve been raised in crisis and grown up overprotected by freaked out parents. We have found that on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, most parents today don’t trust that you’re doing the basics well - food, housing, safety. If you can address these things up front and help them feel secure, then they’ll engage in conversations about academic programs and transformational experiences.
You also must be prepared for how technologically advanced they are as a generation. We need quick and easy access to wifi, web that is optimized for touchscreen phones and tablets, user-created content and more video and images (rather than web pages full of text).