Competitive or Collaborative? Understanding Generation Z

Given what Generation Z is up against in the work force, it’s perhaps no surprise these students are known for being highly competitive.

Consider these facts:

  • Parents have been pushing to position their child to succeed in a new income environment with growing inequality. There has been an intense focus for students on achieving academic excellence, developing stand-out resumés, and positioning to get in the best college possible.
  • Focus groups with young people show that Generation Z understands that when they step into the workforce they’re competing with applicants from all over the world who can do what they do better, possibly for less.

Together, these forces have created an intensely competitive environment. Having grown up facing these pressures, it’s no wonder that Generation Z’s school career is more focused on studying than generations past. Housing officers must recognize that studying will be a large portion of how students utilize their living space, and will play a big focus in selecting where they want to live.

Can the competitive generation also collaborate?

Some reports indicate that the competitive nature of Gen-Z means they are more interested in working independently. After all, they were raised by highly independent Gen-Xers, so today’s youths are used to doing things on their own.

However, other reports call Generation Z more collaborative than Millennials. They grew up in a K-12 environment that emphasized conflict resolution. Collaborative technologies are innate to them.

Before pulling out all common rooms, it’s important that housing offers recognize that being collaborative and independent don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, despite their impudence in the workplace, this group is often hungry for in-person connections and a real-life community. This need for community could impact how they choose where to live.

Creating a community

The living-learning environment has become one popular method for bringing students together to foster collaboration and community. How this looks can vary. This may include mixed-use communities with classrooms and residential units for both students and faculty in the same building, or collaborative study areas positioned throughout a residential building. Common areas in suites, collaborative study spaces and inviting lounge areas are all features that are providing the sense of community for which Gen-Z students are looking.

In addition, housing officers can tap into technology to foster social interaction, rather than replacing it. Some student housing brands are using property apps to keep residents informed about community activities. For example, personalized push notifications can provide alerts around evening activities the moment a resident walks in the door, giving students the encouragement they need to be part of the larger student community.

How housing officers can tap into the community

Thanks to social media, this is a generation that is easily influenced by each other and is often hungry to offer their viewpoints. For example, when looking for suggestions on where to go to college, they’re not looking at U.S. News’ Best Colleges. They’re leaning into the people they know or influencers they trust. They have an incredible ability to tap into the collective to make decisions, make change and learn about different topics. This online community is likely to play a significant role in how these students make decisions about where they’ll live.

If your residents are talking about community experiences or design elements they love, then expect that tomorrow’s college applicants are listening.

For more, download our Executive Guide: Is Your Student Housing Ready for Gen Z?

Is Your Student Housing Ready for Gen Z?

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