Gens X, Y, & Z and the “Academic Workplace”



The Chronicle of Higher Education recently featured an article entitled “How Generations X, Y, and Z May Change the Academic Workplace.” College campuses are home to a variety of generations of students, faculty, and staff.  More senior faculty and staff may be a part of the Baby Boomer generation, characterized by hard work and grittiness.  Many administrators now fall into Generation X, typified by their critical eye and questioning of processes.  Finally, traditionally-aged college students are a combination of Millennials and Generation Z, a fascinating combination of high-achieving, team-oriented Millennials and the virtually connected Generation Z.  More campuses are serving a broader spectrum of students, so faculty and staff must understand the developmental needs of all generations.

Meanwhile, technology has heavily-influenced all levels of campus.  Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Yik Yak (may it rest in peace): these words are synonymous with the ongoing development of social media and the virtual places students hang out.  In my 17 years on college campuses, I have seen a stark change from the late night, loud (but respectful), fun gatherings in common spaces to campuses full of students walking around, staring at their smartphones.  For many of us in the earlier generations, we may mistakenly perceive this change as negative, when ultimately, we need to respond to the new normal and meet students where they are.

In “How Generations X, Y, and Z May Change the Academic Workplace,” Sarah Brown simultaneously describes the needs of the various generations working at and attending colleges, while also sharing how technology has influenced campus.  She provides suggestions and examples on how faculty and staff can connect with their students in new ways to promote learning in and out of the classroom.