Just after colleges and universities have adapted to the unique traits of Millennials, a new generation has arrived to shake up higher education: introducing Gen Z, digital natives born after 1996 who are either preparing to enter college or have already enrolled. This new wave of students have wants and dreams wholly different from their Millennial predecessors.
Gen Zers look for a quality education at an affordable price, and they are willing to shop around to find the university or degree program best suited for their interests. After seeing the effect of the 2008 recession on their parents’ finances, Gen Zers are choosing to attain degrees in fields that ensure success and stability.
Understanding what Gen Z students want and how your university can deliver proves crucial to setting yourself apart from other schools and appealing to a future generation of graduates. Here are five majors popular with Gen Z students that your university should focus on developing and promoting.
1) Business Administration
Facing a tough job market, Gen Z students search for articles online about the “worst college majors for your career,” “least-paying college majors,” and “least valuable majors” in order to inform their decisions. As the cost of higher education continues to skyrocket, students are understandably concerned about how their investment will pay off after graduation.
With a 10-year projected job growth of 11.2 percent, business administration is a relatively “safe” program of study and is applicable to many fields. The flexibility of the degree appeals to entrepreneurial Gen Z students, and an average starting salary of $46,300 will set graduates on a clear path to success. Other business programs Gen Zers are considering include finance, economics, and management.
2) Build Your Own Major
Unlike college-age Millennials of days past, Gen Zers are laser-focused on their future careers. Living in an internet age with seemingly limitless possibilities, Gen Z doesn’t want to be confined into one program of study. Instead, they are choosing to personalize their college experience by developing custom majors that will get them exactly where they want to go.
A study by Northeastern University found that three out of four students are interested in designing their own major in college. This unconventional program allows ambitious undergrads to build their degree from a combination of subjects and gives them the tools needed to forge their own path.
Raised by cynical Gen Xers and witness to older Millennial siblings whose theatre majors landed them in the family basement, Gen Zers tend to be attracted to STEM and business degrees over the traditional humanities. However, that isn’t to say that liberal arts are dead. A sociology degree, which offers lucrative careers in fields such as human resources, law, and market research, shows promising growth among Gen Z students. This degree also pairs well with a business major or minor.
Breathe new life into your humanities department by offering practical, hands-on coursework and clearly communicating the economic value of each major. Emphasizing your program’s internship opportunities and the success of alumni from the department will go a long way in reaching Gen Z prospects.
4) Computer Science
Not surprisingly, the generation who can’t remember a world without iPhones is also the most interested in digital technology and its applications. Gen Z understands the importance of technological advancements and chooses majors that place them on forefront of creating the next world-changing innovation.
Computer science degrees boast an average starting salary of $65,900 and have a projected 10-year job growth rate of 21.6 percent. This popular degree offers job opportunities in software development, computer systems analyst, and programming. A major in management information systems also shows promising job growth.
5) Environmental Science
While Gen Z was growing up, conservation causes such as fighting global warming, banning single-use plastic, and saving the rainforest received high-profile media attention. Sustainability and eco-consciousness are not just corporate buzzwords but principles that Gen Z lives by. Believing that they can and will change the world, Gen Z selects careers that will allow them to make a positive impact.
Offering a median salary of $69,400 in 2017, environmental science opens graduates up to a wide variety of vocations such as oceanographer, geoscientist, environmental engineer, and, of course, environmental scientist. With an environmental science degree, Gen Z students can champion their socially responsible convictions while earning a respectable salary.
Reach the next generation.
Gen Z students are looking for degrees that are practical, profitable, technical, and socially responsible. And with an unparalleled ability to research prospective schools to compare academics, tuition costs, and student life, setting your university apart from the competition has never been more important. Remember, the next college is only a click away.
Is your school ready for Gen Z? Take a look at the innovative campaigns we’ve designed for universities and find out how we can transform your higher education institution into a brand students can trust for their future success. Give our team a call at 864.373.9330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how you can reach the next generation.