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Generation NeXt Comes to College Understanding Today’s Postmodern Students . Dr. Mark Taylor . Topics. Generations in Higher Ed Traditionals, Boomers, Xers, NeXt Understanding NeXters to reach developmental , institutional and departmental goals.

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generation next comes to college understanding today s postmodern students

Generation NeXt Comes to CollegeUnderstanding Today’s Postmodern Students

Dr. Mark Taylor

  • Generations in Higher Ed

Traditionals, Boomers, Xers, NeXt

  • Understanding NeXters

to reach developmental, institutional and departmental goals.

what do we want to do
What do we want to do?
  • Help students reach developmental goals

Learning, workplace readiness, citizenship, etc.

  • Recruitment


Marketing, Media

  • Persistence and Retention

Prerequisite for student and institutional success.

  • Heterogeneous
  • Diverse
  • “Modal personality”


  • Lifestage vs. cohort
  • No stereotypes !
  • No criticism !
  • No excuses !
  • We may need to do things differently
  • Understanding creates opportunity.


Gen NeXt

generation next
Generation NeXt

“Why are they like this?”

“Why do they do that?”

  • They make perfect sense
  • Logical products of culture
  • Their traits and expectations are not surprising
  • Just doing what has worked in the past.

  • Born before 1945
  • At least 62 now
  • Affected by the Depression, WWII
  • Between Greatest and Boomers
  • Often donors, administration and “senior” staff.

traditional values
Traditional values
  • Duty, discipline, thrift
  • Sacrifice, sobriety, delay of gratification
  • Conformity, authority, hierarchies
  • Last of a long line
  • Good old days?

Patriarchal, Racist

traditional higher ed
Traditional higher ed
  • Like formality

Face to face contact


  • High status contacts

(or kids)

  • Monumental, legacy appeals
  • Traditionals like





traditionals said
Traditionals said…
  • “We didn’t know we were poor.”
  • “It is not supposed to be fun.”
  • “I want my kids to have better than I had.”

baby boomers 1945 1964
Baby Boomers 1945-1964

We all think we are normal.

baby boomers 1945 19641
Baby Boomers 1945-1964
  • 42-61 years young
  • “Pig in the python”
  • Post war affluence
  • New middle class
  • “Cleavers”
  • Special, advantaged, lucky.

baby boomers value
Baby Boomers value
  • Idealistic
  • Relationship oriented
  • Individuality/ creativity
  • Personal fulfillment
  • Self-improvement
  • Human potential
  • “Make a difference”.

boomer communication
Boomer communication
  • Use various media

Most “mainstream” cohort

  • They do use the web

They think they are hip

  • Relationship oriented

Be their friend

  • Respond to younger people

Anyone younger than them

Can respond to students

Identify with “college self”.

boomer parents
Boomer parents
  • Critical in school selection, student success
  • Clarify expectations of their involvement
  • Priorities different than their kids
  • What do they want?






show boomers
Show Boomers
  • Well lit, trafficked sidewalks at night
  • Young people studying
  • Caring adults

RA “rise and shine”

  • Good, clean fun

touch football, Frisbee

  • Young people moving out of the house
  • Young people going to work

morph entering student into professional worker.

generation x 1965 1981
Generation X 1965-1981
  • “Baby Bust”
  • 25 to 41?
  • Tail end of the Boom
  • Shadow of the Boom
  • “Consciousness Revolution”
  • Tough times to be a kid
  • Culture changed/ not equipped
  • Necessary?
  • Priority?

generation x 1965 19811
Generation X 1965-1981
  • Pragmatic
  • Self-reliant
  • Less relationship oriented
  • Flexible
  • Skeptical
  • Less optimistic.

gen x returning students
Gen X returning students
  • Pragmatic reasons, outcomes for returning

All data, no faith

  • Need very clear, personal “whys?”

Professional, not personal development

What is the return on this investment?

  • “Webster” model

Break link with “ivory tower” academics“ image

“Professionals in their field”.

generation next 1982 1994
Generation NeXt 1982-1994?
  • Up to 24 years old now
  • “Baby Boom Echo”
  • Huge cohort
  • Wanted, precious, protected children of Boomer parents

(soon to see Xers’ children)

  • Trophy child?
  • Cleavers?

generation next 1982 19941
Generation NeXt 1982-1994
  • Millennials?

generational cycles
Generational cycles
  • G.I. 1901-1924 Civic
  • Silent 1925-1942 Adaptive
  • Boom 1943-1960 Idealist
  • Gen X 1961-1981 Reactive
  • “Millennials” 1982-

Civic ?!?

millennials rising
“Millennials Rising”?


  • Conventional/ conformists

respectful of social norms and institutions

  • Trusting of institutions & adults
  • Collectively vital to nation
  • Confident about the future
  • Into math and science, not humanities
  • Busy with extracurricular activities and community projects
  • Demand secure, regulated environment
  • Focused on grades and performance
  • Accepting of responsibility
  • Close to parents.


Higher Education Research Program HERI

Cooperative Institutional Research Program CIRP

Surveying entering students since 1966

Sandy Astin, et al

ucla heri
  • Record levels of academic disengagement
  • Growing materialism
  • Optimistic about chances for success
  • Unrealistic ideas about their skills and college expectations.

a postmodern generation
A Postmodern Generation
  • The product of postmodern influences
  • Shared cultural values?
  • Premodern “social traditional” traditional roles, conventions, belief, religion?
  • Modern “scientific-rational”, data, reason, progress, human development?

postmodern times
Postmodern times
  • Diversity?
  • Pluralism – many available models, none shared
  • Choice - over tradition or data
  • Truth is chosen/ created

Always changing

  • Next best thing
  • Value own opinion
  • Values individual over community
  • Worth = utility/ cost

No “morality” (only laws)

  • Non-judgmental?

gen next and postmodern times
Gen NeXt and Postmodern times
  • More dual career families
  • More divorce / single parents
  • More day care
  • More responsibility/ accountability for schools
  • Less socialization by parents
  • More media/ technology
  • Downsizing, security, opportunity issues
  • More public sex and violence
  • More “role models” and choice.

po mo student
Po-mo student
  • Academic unreadiness
  • Record levels of academic disengagement
  • Record lows for time spent studying
  • Tired of “school”
  • Optimistic about chances for success
  • Unrealistic expectations about their skills and college expectations
  • Unrealistic future workplace expectations.

the consumer student
The Consumer Student
  • Producer- consumer orientation
  • Education seen as commodity

● Monetary goals

● Career, not development

● “get” not “become”

  • Market driven outcomes
  • Customer role, customer service


  • Increasing responsibility for outcomes
  • “Education” must make sense, have obvious value for them; now and later.

po mo consumer student
Po-mo consumer student
  • Expect choices / options “Do-over”

Times/ places

Commitment reluctance

Impacts persistence

  • Expects to negotiate
  • May feel entitled to outcome

High school grade inflation

Academic success with little effort?

  • Expects immediate gratification/ service


parent issues
Parent issues

1. No spanking


no fear

limited notion of “consequence”

2. Offering choices

importance of opinions

at expense of authority

3. “Unlimited horizons”

4. Self esteem programming.

parent issues1
Parent issues
  • “Doing for” and “have done”
  • Defend child against school
  • Monitoring (them/ us)
  • In constant contact
  • Interferes developmentally
  • Influences self-efficacy
  • “I couldn’t do it on my own”.

  • Unstructured time?
  • Creative play?
  • Programmed childhood?
  • Impacts imagination/ creativity
  • Impacts formative relationship skills
  • Impacts self-direction
  • High need for direction
  • May resist direction.

intellectual cognitive issues
Intellectual/ cognitive issues
  • Bright, savvy
  • Concrete / literal (not abstract / reflective) Absolutes (not “formal”/ relative)

Problems with abstractions

Difficulty applying theory in new setting

  • Oral (not literate)
  • High value of own opinion
  • Skeptical- no intellectual authorities
  • Intellectually disengaged.

short event horizon
Short event horizon

“Life is random”

  • Expect instant gratification
  • Impatient
  • Critical thinking/ problem solving skills?
  • Mature planning / responsibility?
  • Disconnect from adult life.

entertainment orientation
Entertainment orientation

It’s supposed to be fun

  • “I’m bored.”
  • High need for external stimulation
  • Poor fit with traditional academic activities.

responsibility issues
Responsibility issues
  • Externally oriented- limited introspection

projection of responsibility

  • Reduced self-efficacy

lives controlled by outside forces

  • Citizenship issues

Pandemic cheating

  • Not especially resilient

Adaptation, not coping.

excellence esteem issues
Excellence/ Esteem Issues

They are all stars!

  • Programmed for esteem over achievement
  • Limited realistic/ negative feedback
  • Self interested/ self-important
  • Belief in talents
  • Rate own skills highly
  • Expect academic success with little effort
  • Self-interested/ self-important
  • “The Deficit Model”
  • Self-satisfied
  • Why change?
  • Startled by difficulties.

community issues
Community issues

“Army of one”

“Be all you can be”

  • Weaker links to community

Small peer group

  • Expanded individual focus
  • Limited willingness to subordinate own needs to needs of group
  • Expect to take care of themselves
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Need a community

  • Blunt/ direct
  • Insensitive?
  • Honest
  • Entitled to expression
  • Not traditionally “respectful”
  • “Civility” issues
  • Semantically flexible (“txt msg 4 U LOL!)

wired youngster
Wired youngster

“Generation Net” “Digital natives”

  • Multi wired

Deeply imbedded

Time with media

  • “Hidden” impacts

parents, cheating

  • High stimulation

over stimulated

  • Multi sensory
  • Multi task
  • Everyone is available
  • Immediate everything
  • Tech depth/ problem solving?

wired student
Wired student
  • Prefer tech (what is tech?)

pro tools vs. “studio”

  • Hyperlink vs. liner thought
  • Knowledge vs. retrieval
  • Expect tech options in courses and services
  • Expect tech sophistication and support
  • Expect immediate response/ service
  • Tech may replace other skills.

got skills
Got skills?
  • Assess complex visual data quickly
  • Visual/ spatial skills
  • Brain/ hand neurology
  • Responding to expected and unexpected stimuli
  • Rewards for quick decisions
  • Few consequences
  • Attention span?

short for non-interactive activity (except for zoning).

  • Must be seamless
  • Get name and number one time only
  • They can be led, and will “fall into”
  • But are alert to being tricked
  • Expect to be “sold”
  • First few contacts should be to connect and to give to them
  • Web site.

tech comm
Tech Comm
  • The are on-line

My Space


You Tube

  • Connecting with each other via technology

Text messages, phone, IM

  • Prefer tech to face to face
  • Must invite them to your site.

siteing with next
Siteing with NeXt
  • Should be the coolest site around

“College Edge”- link from regular site

If the adults like it…

  • “Enroll in our virtual community”
  • Link to My Space, Facebook

School’s You Tube videos?

  • I-pod downloads

Local bands?

School bands?

Jam nights?

  • Offer value to prospective student

Transitional guides

High school to college

Two year school to college

Work to college.

core messages images
Core messages/ images
  • A place for you

Have fun now

We know you are special

Lots of choices

We have what you don’t have now

or will lose…


  • Learning that matters

Develop your talents

Take charge of your future

Fortune and fame.

a place for you tube subliminal but not evil
Art studio

Small group in class

Video game in union

“Jam night”

Touch football

Working on laptop at campus monument

Laughing m/e group

Exercise in rec center

Asleep in bed

Major sporting event

Talking on cellphone

Painting posters


“Texting” on lawn

Swimming pool




Moving in

Shaking a hand


A place for you (tube)Subliminal, but not evil

learning that matters
Learning that matters
  • Start with school image, move to “matters”

Speech class

Speaking to small peer group

Speaking at board table

Small group in class

Work team around table

Computer “writing” class

Writing on lap-top


Science lab

CSI lab


  • “Most colleges are seriously out of step with the real world in getting students ready to become workers in the postcollege world.”

workplace issues
Workplace issues
  • “a pandemic of workplace unreadiness as today’s graduates are unable to think long term, handle details or delay gratification” Levine 2005

Many students who do earn degrees have not actually mastered the reading, writing and thinking skills we expect of college graduates.

Over the past decade, literacy among college graduates has actually declined.

Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education Draft of the Preamble August 9, 2006

working with next
Working with NeXt

Goals, connections, practices

  • Articulate outcomes
  • Manage esteem issues
  • Facilitate goal setting
  • Communicate high expectations
  • Personal connections
  • Workplace imperative
  • “Best practices”
  • Postmodern pedagogy.

managing consumerism
Managing Consumerism
  • Reexamine the product- processes and goals

“Is this something they want and need delivered in a way that is appropriate and appealing to them?

  • Make sure they know what they are buying
  • Opportunity- not outcome
  • Make sure we are meeting obligations.

issues in enrollment management
Issues in enrollment management

Which students go where?

  • Economic “push-down”
  • Competition for better students
  • Fewer choosing national service
  • Military issues
  • Parent issues.

what are we selling what are they buying
What are we selling?What are they buying?
  • Knowledge
  • Development
  • Degree
  • Career
  • Membership.

choice to attend
Choice to attend
  • Location
  • Cost
  • Eligibility
  • Reputation
  • Experiences

  • Based on schedules, needs, styles, preferences
  • Choices increase student responsibility
  • High tech- high touch.

doing what works best practices intake and intervention
Doing What Works- Best PracticesIntake and intervention
  • Honest recruitment
  • Seamless admission
  • Rapid integration
  • Starting with the end in mind
  • Investing in the front end
  • Required orientation
  • First year experience/ college success classes
  • Developmental/ remedial courses
  • Intrusive developmental advising
  • Early alert systems/ support interventions
  • Increasing availability of support services
  • Increasing student use of support services.

retention strategies for next
Retention Strategies for NeXt

Persistence and retention are institutional imperatives

“Everyone’s job”

  • Honest recruitment
  • Seamless admission
  • Orientation/ first year experience/ college success
  • Intrusive developmental advising
  • Early alert systems
  • Active learning/ learning support
  • Excellent maps
  • Eyes on the prize/ future building
  • Connections/ membership

School (spirit)

  • Caring attitudes of faculty and staff.

offer excellent maps
Offer excellent maps
  • Starts with the end in mind
  • “Admission geared to graduation”
  • Four semester schedules?
  • Celebrate milestones- outcomes
  • Clear explication of what students need to do, and when they need to do it
  • Links/ steps between courses.

best practices for retention social campus culture
Best Practices for RetentionSocial / Campus culture
  • Increasing student time/ involvement on campus
  • Increasing student work opportunities on campus
  • Increasing student-to-student interaction
  • Increasing student-to-faculty interaction (especially out of class, on subject)
  • Connecting curriculum and co-curricular activities
  • Caring attitudes of faculty and staff.

what factors influence decisions to stay
What factors influence decisions to stay?

1. Caring attitude of faculty and staff

2. High quality instruction

3. Adequate financial aid

4. Student involvement on campus

5. High quality advising

6. Excellent counseling services

7. Excellent career planning

8. Concern about student/ institutional fit

9. Admission geared to graduation

10. Early alert system

early warning
Early Warning
  • Implement “redundant early-warning systems that identify and respond to students whose academic performance or other behaviors put them at risk of failure or dropping out…”
  • Kuh, George D., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J. H., & Associates. (2005) Student Success in College, Creating Conditions That Matter(p.261).

best practices academics
Best PracticesAcademics
  • Learning support opportunities

Tutoring/ supplemental instruction

  • Learning communities/ linked classes
  • Early and frequent feedback
  • High academic expectations
  • Committing to the learning model

Increasing engagement

Active learning pedagogies.

goal setting is critical
Goal setting is critical
  • Personal ownership of

Academic goals

Occupational goals

Development goals

  • Students’ ability to see themselves in the future helps more of today make sense
  • Improves persistence/ resilience.

goal setting
Goal setting
  • Meaningful assessments of talents and needs
  • Realistic goal setting

Understanding workplace expectations

  • Excellent maps
  • Consistent monitoring
  • Persistent future orientation.

use peers
Use peers
  • Prefer to connect with an age peer
  • Really only comfortable within own peer group
  • Recruit cohorts
  • Phone banks
  • Geographical links
  • Blogs
  • Student led tours, orientation
  • “You Tube” teams
  • Self-parodying virtual tours.

connections are critical
Connections are critical
  • Persistence and change
  • Academic / Social integration
  • Menu of connection options and opportunities
  • 1. Caring attitudes of faculty and staff
  • Relationship with one person
  • Everyone must be available to connect with and integrate students.

student success is fragile
Student success is fragile
  • Most important transition for young adults
  • More important work?
  • At most schools most are not successful
  • College is hard, not always fun
  • Easy to get off track
  • One problem can turn them away
  • One hand may save them.

questions comments resources
Questions/ Comments?Resources?

Dr. Mark Taylor