Unexpected Ways Millennials Are Impacting Higher Education

In this article for The Huffington Post blog, Zach Cutler identifies some of the ways higher education must adapt in order to stay relevant to younger generations.

Millennials are making their mark on higher education. This plugged-in generation learns differently, and education institutions are starting to take note. Yet the education industry, with its emphasis on “focus work” over the more collaborative techniques Millennials prefer, might not be adapting quickly enough. Generation Z students, born with smartphones in their hands, are right around the corner, making it essential for higher education to adapt more quickly.

In a recent survey, nearly half of Millennials employed in the education industry indicated their employers have outdated collaboration practices. Education’s highly regimented structure means the industry is less open to collaboration techniques and big ideas. It scored the lowest for using brainstorming meetings to generate big ideas (only 65 percent) and in supporting spontaneous collaboration (56 percent) among coworkers.

So how are Millennials changing higher education, and what does the industry need to do to keep in touch with digitally-savvy students? Here are just a few solutions for bridging the divide between higher ed and Gen Y:

The Push Toward Master’s Degrees

With decreased opportunities in the current job market, many Millennials are opting to stay in school for a longer period of time. This makes sense, since additional schooling often leads to an uptick in salary.

According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials with a master’s degree are earning 23 percent more than their counterparts in 1984. Higher education institutions need to prepare students for a master’s course and offer robust graduate programs in order to attract great students. For many Millennial students, learning no longer ends with a bachelor’s.

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