SunGardHE Summit: Recruiting the Millenial Generation

(Notes from SunGardHE Summit on Wednesday, April 16)

Neil Howe spoke on recruiting the Millenial generation. Millennials are the generation born since 1982 with a childhood era including culture wars and the 1990s boom. What will their coming of age look like?

I thought I was a late boomer but his facts say Boomers are 1943-1960. Gen X is 1961-1981. I still think I’m a boomer, yeah I was maturing with MTV and rap but don’t relate to it. I relate more to the typical Boomer ties. And based upon his discussion, fall in the Boomer scenario.

Generations of College Youth

GI Generation (1901-1924)

  • Loved to be regimentalized (Boy Scouts formed during this time)
  • Percent of high school students earning degrees jumped from 15% to 50%
  • New image of a college graduation: constructive teamplayer (“technocrat… power elite”)

Silent Generation (1925-1942)

  • Didn’t want to change the system, they wanted to work within the system
  • Called the “fortunate generation” because of the overall prosperity
  • Impact on education is that they “inherited the system”
  • New image of a college graduate: credentialed expert (“organization man”)

Boomer Generation (1943-1960)

  • Self-oriented, self-sufficient
  • “Generation that wanted legalized drugs to think outside the box, today gives their kids drugs to think within the box.”
  • Boomers “rejected the system” in regards to education
  • New image of a college graduate: assertive visionary (“yuppie… cultural elite”)

Gen X (1961-1981)

  • Like to think they don’t belong to a generation
  • Gen X children ignored, got in the way
    • Opinion polls found parents believing that it is more important to find out who you are, instead of staying together for the kids
    • Note the chronology of the evil-child movie era: Rosemary’s Baby, 1968, through Children of the Corn, 1984
  • Philosophy of life is not as important as being financially well off according to polls of incoming college students (change happened in early 1970s)
  • Gen X got by without the system, don’t trust the system, assume no one is in charge
  • New image of a college graduate: get-it-done contractor (“free agent”)

Millenials (1982 – ?)

  • Child as devil movies end
    • Baby is adorable movies start: Baby Boom, Three Men and a Baby
    • As they get older, kids helping parents get better movies: Sleepless in Seattle
  • Most risk factors for youth considerably lower (Resource: Monitoring the Future)
    • Violent crime against youth is way down since 1980
    • Teen pregnancy and abortion also very much lower
    • Suicide rates have a sizable reduction
  • Most diverse U.S. generation (non-whites are 41% of this generation)
  • Peer personality traits: sheltered, know they are special (everyone talks about them) and so on
  • Drug avoidance messages used to be negative for Gen X (e.g., “This is your brain on drugs”, “Just say no!”), now the message is positive (e.g., “I want you to be proud of me”)
  • Bringing technology back to the community (twitter, chat, im)
  • No privacy concerns (parents put cameras in baby’s room, now the Millenials put cameras in their own room and take themselves online)
  • High school volunteerism is way up
  • Ideal employers more team and interaction/community oriented from 2007 poll: Google, Walt Disney, Apple, US Deptartment of State, Peace Corps

Personality Traits of the Millenial Generation and How to Address in College Recruiting and Retention

Special Generation
  • Co-market to parents, get ready for helicopter moms and dads, channel their energy (partner with the parents)
  • Students expect to be treated as VIPs, leverage their specialness (“Yes, you are special. Because of this special things are expected of you.”)
  • Tech expectations: show they are special, let them customize portal to their special needs
Sheltered Generation

Take note of all the child protection policies since 1982 (e.g., child restraint devices, helmet rules)

  • Market a safe campus
  • Millenials love counselors
  • Less FERPA concerns
  • Promote “collegiate” small school feel
  • Banish anonymity (high touch, small learning communities even in a large institution)
Confident Generation
  • Stress good outcomes, long-term commitments, personal progress plans
  • Help students perform as professionals (internships, especially working from school labs on remotely-located internships)
  • Be male-friendly: create contextual, project-based and career-oriented environments
Team-oriented Generation
  • Showcase live/learn groups
  • Teach team skills
  • Strong links to the community
  • Promote engagement in classes and residential life
  • Use technology to empower constructive social networks
Conventional Generation

Millenials like being with family, there isn’t the value gap between parent and child today as between past generations. Howe noted that generations compete with each other when each is strong, Millenials don’t compete with Boomer parents because Boomers are weak in terms of community. He related how High School Musical embodies all that the Millenial generation is.

  • Define college as a big-brand bonding experience
  • Stress a single “core” curriculum
  • Use rituals to celebrate collective progress
  • Assume a need to share and find consensus and a desire to see faculty as role model
Pressured Generation

Millenials see little time for unstructured play and an excess of protection. There is an overall obesity issue, hours of sleep are down and homework hours are up.

  • Stress long-term planning, expect big changes in grad schools with a need for structure
  • Stess overall mastery goals
  • Make tasks achievable with coninuous testing, assessment, feedback and redirection (Millenials and their parents want tight cycles of feedback)
Achieving Generation

Howe shared samples for the winning words in the national spelling bee across the generations.

  • 1950s: psychiatry, condominium
  • 1970s: croissant, vouchsafe
  • 1990s: milieu
  • 2001-2007: pococurante, appoggiatura (oh, boy)
  • Get ready for new insistence, especially from parents
  • Empower students and make use of technology to create teaching efficiencies

Howe related how we’ll also see a change as the Gen X parents of Millenials move into midlife.

  • Skeptical of institutions
  • High attachment to child
  • Less optimistic, more calculating
  • Not helicopter moms, they’ll be stealth fighter moms
  • Price shoppers (Boomer brags how much paid for BMW, Gen Xer brags how low a price they got)
  • Modular mentality (opt in or out)
  • Seek transparency, standards
  • Like accurate data, better rankings
  • Want personal accountability
  • Expect real-time service (do you pass the Fed X test)

This talk was very revealing of the Millenial generation, and my own. It left me wondering more about the cycle of generations. Are Millenials like the GI or Silent generation? How much do generation characteristics cycle and what influences the similarities and differences? How is technology impacting generations?

While at the conference and visiting Disneyland we experienced a father suffering with the community ties of his Millenial daughter. The daughter had a cell phone with little battery life left. She wanted to leave Disneyland due to this extreme hardship. At first the experience finds me thinking the daughter is quite silly and I, too, would have been a very frustrated parent. Who would want to leave Disneyland? During the presentation it dawned on me that, perhaps, this was a Millenial losing touch with her community.

It also reminds me of my attempts to communicate with a nephew. Chatting online one evening I struggled to get much out of this young man. I felt insulted that he wasn’t focused on our conversation (the Boomer in me, I am important) and wondered about his ability to communicate. After enticing a little information out of him, I came to realize that he was not only communicating with me but with twelve friends at the same time. Millenials are in their community 24/7, and me, being on the outskirts of that community, “suffer” because of my own generational community expectations.