Home Features School Operations 15 Ideas to Help You Recruit, Enroll, Educate and Place Generation Z
15 Ideas to Help You Recruit, Enroll, Educate and Place Generation Z

15 Ideas to Help You Recruit, Enroll, Educate and Place Generation Z


By Theresa Miulli, Consultant and Keynote Speaker, T.M. Speaks

Every few years we stumble and typically trip over a new hurdle in our world of career education; a new, more complex generation of students to teach. Over the past 20 years, we have moved from the rebel, cynical mentality of Generation X, to the entitled, somewhat aloof cohort of millennials.

As we turn into 2020, a new generation is emerging into our classrooms, Generation Z. All too often, these students are being grouped in with millennials, but let me be clear, they are very different.

We cannot just take the skills and tools we have acquired over the past 10 years and now apply them to this new generation. Instead, we must understand what makes them tick as their own community. What is different? How can we reach them? Let me take a brief moment of your valuable time and showcase some need to know things about Generation Z, and how you can adapt to reach them in the admissions process, education space, and even in placement initiatives.

Who the heck are they?

As there are many dates ranges out there to describe Generation Z, for ease and simplicity here we will say that this generation was born in the year 1997 or after. Currently, they are entering into the higher education career college sector as traditional-aged learners, 18-22 years old. As generational experts attempt to stuff this group into a box, it has become increasingly clear that we just can’t. Should we attempt to align them with millennials, we realize very quickly that this group has their own motivations and moral ethics.

A bit about how Generation Z grew up. For this generation of students, school has NEVER been a safe haven. With increases in school violence over the past 20 years, this generation has never known school to be a safe place and instead, has experienced schools with security and metal detectors. This is definitely different than I experienced as a Generation X kid. Generation Z kids grew up in a time when terrorism was not just an idea, but a part of daily life. They watched their parents struggle through the Great Recession in 2008, and early on learned the value of the dollar and what it feels like to perhaps, not have that dollar. For many, their families were involved in the housing bust, resulting in a more transient life than most of us have experienced. This generation, often, failed to encounter the carefree childhood of baseball and park play that many of us were lucky enough to have.

So, what does that mean for schools? Well, this generation is motivated. They communicate well through social media and understand discretion in an online platform better than millennials ever did. These students are interested in the big global picture, and continually wondering where they fit into the scheme of things. As they have always had access to the internet, they are digitally connected more than any generation before them. This means they demand education at their fingertips and will also look elsewhere should they not get that. They are fiscally responsible and have seen firsthand what happens when the bottom falls out and employment is slim. These are all things we need to consider if we are going to effectively recruit, enroll, teach and place them through the career college process.

Admissions and Generation Z

Many of the schools I work with are either using the same admissions approach they have been for years or even scarier, no approach at all. And yet, the world of education has changed. Why are we doing the same thing? And how have we adapted to meet the different generations of students? We haven’t. There are some stellar approaches and training out there to build your admissions department, however, if you don’t have the time or money to invest into these, at least consider some of the following ideas when developing your team.

First, we must remember that this generation is used to having information at their fingertips.

Gone are the days where we avoid answering the questions “how much,” and it is time to say goodbye to the idea of pushing for the student to come in physically to have any questions answered.

Transparency is the key to success with this group and avoiding any direct information during initial recruitment calls will only turn them away. This generation of students will simply move on to a school that will give them the information they want online. Consider virtual tours, online live chats, digital information sessions, and even perhaps, online interviews for enrollment.

Second, consider what you are showcasing in your recruitment process. Students want to see the story. They want to see your mission shining through all advertising. This generation (as well as millennials) is buying an experience from you, not a program. They want to know what the journey looks like and how the experience at your institution will better their own life. They want to see homegrown marketing (think Snapchat and Instagram) and want to make sure they are choosing a school that helps develop their own story. Showcase your diversity and really show students that they have a home in your institution.

Finally, consider the value. Generation Z demands a strong return on investment from your school and lacks loyalty to any kind of establishment. Instead, they are thinking about the most value for the money, with the best possible outlook for success after completion of the program. In your advertising, tell those stories of success! Show real graduates that have truly become successful because of your programs! Show them why you are the best!

Let’s break all that down…

  1. Transparency! Answer the questions and be honest
  2. Tell a story with your advertising
  3. Show them the value!
  4. Communicate through social media (Snapchat and Instagram)
  5. Sell the experience and the goal, not the program

Teaching Generation Z

So, we’ve recruited and enrolled them, now how do we need to change our classroom approach to really engage and educate them? Understanding our students and their expectations in a classroom are the only way to fully connect and engage with them. While many of the methods we have accumulated through our experiences with Millennials can be used, we must consider the differences the generations have and address them in the classroom.

Being digital natives, Generation Z has been attached to technology their entire life. Because of this, we must continually find ways to incorporate technology into every single lesson. Students thrive on digital curation and collaboration, insisting on being a part of the learning process, rather than just an observer. Digital curation involves students creating content for social media and the internet. This could be creating videos, wiki-pages, social media ads, and even digital newsletters. The point is that students want to create. Students want to tell their story. And they want to do it on a digital platform. Building curation into your lesson plans will help target what is important to students.

Beyond the use of technology (which I could write an entire article on), Generation Z demands relevant information on demand. What does this mean? In the world of YouTube and Instagram, there is information at their fingertips. Some of this information is not accurate, and some are actually detrimental to their professional career. However, the student sees it as relevant to their goals and easily accessible. So how do we combat this? Your school’s social media page MUST provide students with easy information on the go. Don’t want them to look for the answer on an unverified YouTube page? Then make a video yourself and make it available to them. Furthermore, it is so important that everything we teach in a classroom is not only relevant to their career, but that we showcase to them how it is relevant. This generation must see the value in everything you offer, or they will seek information elsewhere.

Another thing to consider when developing curricula and lessons is the idea of individualized education.

Today’s student is used to having the ability to customize their settings in just about everything. Netflix adapts to meet your interests.

Spotify suggests music for you according to what you listen to. Facebook and Instagram allow us to choose who we see from day to day, and from what sources we learn from. How can we adapt that to the school settings? This could be within your advising programs, customizing classes and assignments to the student. This could be in the lesson plan, or through allowing students to choose the type of assignment they create for their credits. Regardless of how we do it, we must consider flexibility a priority in how we present education. This also allows this generation to customize their learning, which teaches self-direction and independence.

Let’s summarize these ideas…

  1. Build-in digital curation
  2. Make sure information is relevant and easily accessible
  3. Customize learning for each student
  4. Let them decide what works for them!
  5. Use digital collaboration to allow students to communicate through digital means

Placing Generation Z

Finally, we get to the last duty as a career college, placing students into employment. If we have not done that, then we have not done our job. However, placing Generation Z can be tricky, as they exist with a spirit of entrepreneurship. So often they want to work for themselves and do not always see the value of garnering experience first. How, then, do we persuade them to not only work, but to follow up with us and fill out those pesky verifications our accreditors require?

First and foremost, show them the value! Generation Z wants to know the why. They need to know how this step in their career will assist them in the overall growth of their professional career. Throughout their program continue to circle back to why it is important that they gain industry knowledge as a professional prior to starting their own business. In addition, this generation, unlike millennials, really does value the financial incentives associated with a good work ethic. Be sure to build relationships with industry employers with this understanding, as it will ultimately help them retain any employees you send their way.

These students also want to know how each and every step in their career will help advance them in the industry.

Be sure you are working with employers that outline a clear plan for growth. Generation Z has ambition and the work ethic to support strong, thriving careers. Any potential employment opportunities should also provide growth plans.

Finally, communicate constantly that there is an expectation of going to work after graduation. As mentioned earlier, Generation Z does not possess strong loyalty to you, your school, or their future employer. They have no problem moving on to the next should they feel they are not receiving the value they need from an organization. Because of this, they need regular reminders of the end game and their responsibilities to your school in regard to placement and verification of said employment. Make it easy and make it important. Be clear and transparent as to why you need these items, so they understand why it is important.

Let’s break down those last five points…

  1. Showcase financial incentives
  2. Be upfront, honest, and transparent about what you need
  3. Build relationships with employers that value growth plans for employees
  4. Be sure to show them WHY it is so important that they gain some experience
  5. Build employment expectations into every part of your curriculum

To sum it all up

I think you will find working with Generation Z to be refreshing. As a motivated group of students, they will work hard, drive to their goal, and in general, see the value in their education. Just remember, relevancy and transparency are the keys to engaging these students. Be upfront. Be relevant. Be available. Subtle shifts in your current approach will keep them engaged, and ultimately, make your life a bit easier over the next ten years. Generation Z is hitting your schools right now! Are you ready?

Theresa Miulli

THERESA MIULLI, serving as a consultant and speaker, has built a career developing programs, training teachers, and unifying teams throughout the country. With a license in Cosmetology, and a Master’s in Non-profit Management, Theresa is passionate about providing relevant, easy pathways for career college students in their mission for a new professional future. Currently earning her Doctorate in Higher Education, Theresa brings a unique perspective to academic management and curriculum development, blending her vocational school experiences with her traditional education. She is currently available for a variety of career college consulting services, centric to student success, faculty development, and curriculum review.

Contact Information: Theresa Miulli // Consultant and Keynote Speaker // T.M. Speaks // 239-292-6325 // tmspeaks@theresamiulli.com // www.theresamiulli.com



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *