Skip to main content

Oh, so this is why my head explodes!

I attended a really interesting presentation at the Midwest First-Year conference. Not that this is the first year of the conference but it’s a conference of all the first year/Intro to college programs from around the Midwest. It was here on the USF campus and we had a really good turnout; schools came from as far away as Kansas and Michigan.

The presentation I attended was “Redesigning the first year experience for Generation Z” by Emily Bosscher of Trinity Christian College. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Boo-hoo, poor little Gen Zer. You had everything handed to you on a silver platter. You never had to think about anything and now you’re scared of the big bad old college.”Image result for Gen z meme

Maybe that’s not what you were thinking but I know a lot of people who think that way. Their response is “Suck it up and quit whining!”

Just as my depression-era parents didn’t understand me and my baby-boomer friends….and I didn’t quite understand my Gen Y children….we have to think of the 17 and 18-year-olds now entering college as a discrete group that is the product of their upbringing and environment. In fact, Ms. Bosscher stated that some of the research she has done on Gen Z (also known as the I-Gen) compares them, not to a recent generation but to the “Greatest Generation” a.k.a. my depression-era parents. Think about it. Both grew up in a time of scarcity (Have we forgotten the great recession?) Both grew up in a time of war. Both grew up with lethal threats from enemies outside our border.

Gen Z has never been allowed to fail and they have a palpable fear of failing at anything. A 'B-' in a high school class was pure agony and a 'C' was a death sentence. And don’t get me (or Ms. Bosscher) started on the effects of social media. Yikes!

Gen Z is loyal, empathetic and tolerant, almost to a fault. They are the most racially diverse generation so far but they are NOT entrepreneurial like the Millenials. They don’t ache to make a mark on the world….they just want a decent job and a comfortable life.

Ms. Bosscher’s bottom line was twofold: Gen Z is maturing slower than previous generations and we need to take that into consideration before we grouse at them for sleeping in class. And, if you consider what the “greatest generation” accomplished in post-WWII America, think what Gen Z can accomplish with all the technology available to them and just a little help and patience from us.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.