The VPM Blog

Q&A with Generation Z: What They Are Looking For In Education

Posted by Alexa Russell on Nov 14, 2018 8:59:41 AM

Companies and brands are scrambling to figure out the best ways to connect with Generation Z. They have watched millennials grow up and want to be different than them. This also means that colleges need to find ways to engage with Generation Z as they are reaching the age to apply for college. So why are some of Generation Z deciding not to go to college? We conducted a Q&A with two people who are a part of Generation Z to try to understand their thought processes when deciding if they want to attend college or not. Our first Q&A was with Stephen White who is 20 years old and did not attend college. He chose to attend a film program instead.

Why did you decide not to go to college?

At the moment college stressed me out too much. I wanted to take a year off after I graduated high school. Around that time I started making videos with my friends and posting them on YouTube. And then another thing that with my career path, is that school isn’t really something that they look at on your resume and just because you have a film degree doesn’t mean you're going to get as much work as someone that’s been doing it since day 1 of them graduating high school. It’s about connections and help.

College I guess just isn’t something they are looking for. I have a friend whose parents are making her get a film degree and she was on the same path that I was but she’s spending all of her time doing school now instead of going on jobs or working.

Did you ever think about going to college?

My case was kind of different. My dad teaches at a college so I would get a discount. I thought about college when I was younger but it wasn’t until I got halfway through high school that I realized I don’t want to be in a school environment forever. Or if I am in a school environment I don’t want it to be stuff that I don’t care about.

Do you ever regret not going to college?

Sometimes, the social aspect of it is an obvious reason, because if you’re a social butterfly or not, you’re going to miss out on stuff just because you’re not there, you’re not in that environment.

It depends on how I’m feeling. I look at people who are trying to do what I’m doing and they are eating my dust.

Why do you think gen Z doesn’t want to go to college?

It’s really expensive now and if you are like my friend and your parents are making you get a degree you can just see the money being wasted, especially when its something where you know that you don’t need a degree deep down. And if you can do something without taking that extra hard step then they are obviously going to do it. It’s the awareness that you don’t have to follow the archetype. I think there are a lot of younger people breaking that flow of things. Sometimes that means going to college, sometimes it doesn’t, but a lot of people are realizing that you can do what you want to do without going to college.

Is there anything colleges can do to entice people like you to go?

If it works for you, it works for you. If you learn how the majority of people learn, college might work for you.

Deep down I know college is going to be slaving over papers and homework and projects and labs and stuff. A lot more hands-on is needed. It takes a certain amount of time to get to what you actually want to do with core classes. But, if you fit that mold, then do it. And it just seems kind of cookie cutter.

Another thing is that, a lot of media studies people in smaller cities, their programs in film aren’t realistic in terms of what it’s like in cities where there are a lot more productions happening. There is stuff that I learned the first or second week in my training that they still haven’t gotten to in college classes and that’s easy stuff.

Is there anything else important that you want to add?

I want to stress that if college is something that works for you, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do college. If you have the finances in order and you have scholarships and you know that what you want to do requires college, then go for it. For me, I just saw another way to do it. I consider myself lucky because the program that I went through I was the 4th graduating class and it was really early and it was a real big gamble because it was like are these people just taking my money or are they actually getting jobs? But they said people were getting jobs. I even have a friend that is actually working on "The Walking Dead" today.

Next, we talked to Graham Russell who is 13 and already thinking about what colleges she wants to attend and what she’s looking for in a college.

Why do you want to go to college?

There are so many opportunities that come out of it. And after college, there’s so much more that you’re going to be able to do. People my age aren’t attracted to work and they don’t want to learn the way they have been taught to learn. They want a hands-on experience instead of pen and paper, take notes, and take a test. They want something out of the ordinary.

What makes you want to go to the colleges you are interested in?

I tend to pick my college based on location. I want to go somewhere in the northwest. Somewhere I’m not boarded up with nothing to do, not based on tradition, but based on innovation. Somewhere that doesn’t teach in traditional ways.

Have you seen any advertisements for colleges? If so, where?

No. I don’t have social media and spend most of my time on YouTube. I haven’t seen any advertisements that I can remember.

What should colleges do to recruit generation Z?

Offer hands-on job experience. Good campus life. New ways of learning, innovative campuses and classes.

How do you define good campus life?

If I visited a campus I would be looking for bookstores, coffee shops, everything within walking distance. Outlets everywhere, easy to connect. Libraries. Dorms with large workspaces, but small rooms.

What do you think should be changed about college?

How everyone is sticking to tradition and how no one is looking for input from generation Z, they are only talking to parents. They aren’t asking what we want out of college, they are only talking to parents and asking “what do you want your kids to do and be able to do.”

They also need to advertise on YouTube. Getting themselves featured in someone’s video. Discord, Twitch, YouTube, streaming services. I feel like the kids that are on there more are the people more likely to go to college. Kids thinking towards their future are on those sites more.

Do you know what you want to major in? Will that impact your college decision?

No one my age really knows what they want to major in. I was on Pinterest the other day and took a quiz that helped you decide what major you should be in. We like to consume content like that. When you quiz someone it appeals to us, we don’t know ourselves at this age. What we like to do is take these quizzes. Colleges should provide career quizzes,  quizzes about what courses you should take at their college, or about which college is best for you.

Anything else you want to add?

I would say help them figure out their career first. When we get into high school years it pops, but we want that to happen early, we are constantly trying to figure it out. Help us to figure it out and figure out that we need to do what we want to do.

Let's say someone’s friends tell them they are a great artist, that's because it looks great for their age. They take that and they run with it. They need to understand that what they’re great at now they might not be great at then. That hobbies aren’t jobs. Its a matter of finding themselves and figuring out what’s going to happen after that.

We want to go to a place where people are like us and is made for a modern age of technology.

We get info all day at school and we don’t know how to turn on and off all of that information. When we get home everything becomes slow, so we want more information, that’s why we absorb content online. What we want to absorb is our futures, we want to know what is going to happen. If they can lead us in a way that’s going to tell us what’s going to happen we might want to go there.


Generation Z wants to feel prepared for their future. Memorizing notes for a test and then forgetting it a day later is not cutting it for them anymore. They crave hands-on experiences and want to learn how to do things for themselves. 89% of Generation Z believes that having a college education is valuable. But colleges need to adapt to new learning styles. 51% of Generation Z learns best from hands-on experience and 38% learn by watching. Education needs to become more personalized and less cookie cutter. Advertising, social media algorithms, shopping, media consumption, and experiences are all becoming personalized and focused on the individual customer, so why isn’t higher education doing the same thing?

Generation Z is consuming more visual content on YouTube and other platforms than any generation before them. This is why it is essential that colleges put emphasis on the video content that they are producing. Generation Z has an endless amount of content to choose from and you have to make yours stand out. Download our free eBook on Video Content Marketing for Higher Education below to put yourself ahead of the game.

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Topics: higher ed, marketing to Generation Z, Generation Z, higher ed marketing, higher education

How to Showcase the Value of Your University

Posted by Alexa Russell on Oct 16, 2018 12:48:09 PM

A lot of higher ed marketing focuses on campus life. Many universities are known for their sense of community or their social life. But is that enough? Do members of Generation Z place as much value on the college experience as older generations? Sure, feeling like you are a part of a college community is important, but higher ed marketers should focus on more tangible benefits to entice prospective students. This could include things like technology, special majors offered, a high rate of students who graduate with jobs lined up, etc.

We have all seen the cookie-cutter college commercials. Many flash "[University name] is..." across the screen followed by a set of generic adjectives and video of students doing fun things on campus or sitting in a classroom. Others have students saying that their university is their home and why. But to reach prospective students you need to set yourself apart and not look just like any other college.

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Topics: higher ed marketing, higher ed

Online Tools Every Higher Ed Marketer Should Be Using

Posted by Don Crow on Aug 29, 2018 8:00:00 AM

A frequent comment heard from Higher Education marketing professionals is they are, (a) understaffed, and (b) under-resourced. The reasons range from lack of money to lack of executive support and the inability to add headcount falling somewhere between the two. However, the demands placed on Higher Ed marketers hasn't gone away and as the battle for top notch, well funded college students grows, the demand list may in fact, be growing. Add to those demands and expectations are the increasing need to reconnect and reestablish a nostalgic relationship with alumni and you see multiple marketing paths and branches that need to be in your strategic plan. As someone who toils in the boutique independent agency world, we are no stranger to squeezing the maximum amount of top notch results out of every resource (people, process and technology. So - I've put together this list of online tools every higher ed marketer should be using to help alleviate some of the pressure.

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Topics: higher ed marketing

How to Fundraise Using the 5 W's

Posted by Alexa Russell on Aug 8, 2018 9:00:00 AM
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Topics: higher ed social media, higher ed marketing, higher ed inbound marketing, higher ed, higher education, Giving Day, Giving Tuesday

4 Things Hurting Your Higher Ed Marketing

Posted by Don Crow on Mar 26, 2018 4:00:00 AM

In the Summer of 2018, Verge Pipe Media will pass another milestone: eight years examining, analyzing and publishing about Higher Ed Marketing. So much has changed over the past eight years: (a) the Windows and Blackberry smart phones no longer exist, (b) Instagram arrived, (c) Snapchat arrived (and may be failing), and (d) Facebook pages are now, for lack of a better term, pay-to-play. Unfortunately, there are a few things which have NOT changed in the past eight years, so I'm going to highlight the 4 things hurting your higher ed marketing based on our experience as a Higher Ed Inbound and Growth Agency.

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Topics: higher ed marketing

For Deans: The Danger of Adding Headcount

Posted by Don Crow on Sep 21, 2017 12:00:00 AM

At the end of 2008, I transitioned jumped from corporate America into the world of Higher Ed administration. Over the next three years, I would see and learn many things, and ultimately decide that my value in Higher Ed was on the outside.

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Topics: higher ed marketing

The Best Ways to Connect with Recent Alumni

Posted by Cody Lunsford on Sep 13, 2017 12:00:00 AM

Imagine. It’s graduation and the graduates from your university are preparing to walk across the stage. Once they walk across the stage, they are gone from any involvement in the university. EVER. AGAIN.

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Topics: higher ed, higher ed marketing

Top 3 Reasons to Outsource Your Higher Ed Marketing

Posted by Don Crow on Aug 29, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Casual observers of Verge Pipe Media know we are in the business of providing outsourced marketing to clients in Higher Education, Technology and Healthcare. If however, you're arriving at this article with less than a clue who VPM is or what we do, this is your disclaimer that the following article, while objectively outlined, may seem partial to the idea of outsourcing your higher ed marketing.

Outsourcing is one of those words long overdue for a suitable replacement. During political cycles, which increasingly seem to go on longer and longer, it's a dirty word used to strike fear in the hearts of voters. In corporate board rooms it's a term with few equals whenever cost savings is on the agenda.

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Topics: higher ed marketing

How to Use Social Media Data in Higher Ed

Posted by Don Crow on Feb 1, 2017 9:00:00 AM

"Data" and "Social Media Data" are words and phrases showing up everywhere today. As a Higher Education marketing and communications specialist, you may find yourself asking, "There's data everywhere, how do I know what to pay attention to?"

You're literally swimming in data if you have email lists, social media profiles, and a website. Determining what to do with all that information can be overwhelming for Higher Ed professionals and your B2B peers as well. In addition to helping you determine which social media sites you should invest time in, we also want to help you with the all important, how to use social media data in higher ed.

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Topics: higher ed marketing, social media marketing

3 Reasons Your School Isn’t Winning on Social Media

Posted by Don Crow on May 10, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Recently I had the good fortune to meet with a Senior Vice President at a small private college in a nearby state. Among the many things we found they were doing well was remarketing. I got bold and asked which agency they were working with because I wanted to position my agency in a head-to-head test.

“We’re not using an agency for our digital initiatives,” he responded.

That next one second felt like an eternity as I had to process, “Impossible!” and, “Does this guy think I’m that stupid?”

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Topics: higher ed marketing

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