Researchers are finding that Generation Z is a goal-oriented generation whose members are constantly working to improve themselves. But this college-bound generation isn’t just focused on improving their minds. This is a generation interested in holistic wellness and its impact on their overall health.
Every generation has had a conversation taking place nationally around health that influenced their teenage years. For Generation X, the topic was cigarettes; Millennial teenagers saw the effects of “your brain on drugs.” Today’s teenagers have come of age when health messaging emphasized reducing obesity, limiting sugar intake, and the idea that “sitting is the new smoking.” As a result, Generation Z was raised to see health and wellness as a necessary balance. Healthy living is second nature to these students. And this innate interest in wellness will have a major impact on what they expect from their campus housing.
Locally sourced ingredients
Generation Z has an awareness that what they put in their body impacts everything: their health, the environment, and the local economy. As a result of this trend, dining operators on college campuses have been forced to innovate. For example, many on-campus dining halls will tout locally sourced or all-natural ingredients. Students are also looking for more custom and made-to-order options, which affects both stocked ingredients and their delivery.
This greater focus on healthful, locally sourced food has also created a generation of young foodies. Generation Z wants to know about the hot food spots nearby. Consider campus fast food out as a fad.
Available fitness features
For student housing, this focus on health and wellness translates to a new perception around the housing experiences that should be available. In years past, college students were offered access to a recreation center. Sometimes they even used it. Today’s fitness-focused students want easy access to fitness amenities. Rec centers aren’t going away, but these individuals are expecting to see a fitness room offered near or as part of their campus housing.
Emphasis on outdoors
Despite Generation Z’s reliance on technology—or perhaps because of it—this generation expresses a fascination with the physical world.
The 2017 North American Camping Report, an annual independent study supported by Kampgrounds of America Inc., shows 81 percent of Generation Z surveyed believe it is very important to spend time in outdoor activities, with 58 percent expressing enthusiasm for camping specifically. Nationwide, national parks saw a record-setting number of visits in recent years.
Some experts attribute this interest as a response to the discussion around climate change, but it can perhaps be more broadly attributed to growing up in a digital world. There’s a resulting fascination with the natural world of which they may have less awareness.
Why this matters to you
For student housing, the fascination with the outdoors translates to an increased interest in attractive outdoor spaces that invite students to study, read, and gather with one another. Health, wellness, and a connection to nature are important for this “iGeneration”, so the outside environment around your housing options will make a difference.
The University of Miami’s 12-acre residential village features a grand courtyard, outdoor study spots, terraces and recreational spaces including a climbing wall. In the 350-square-foot “Yard” outside its College Ave. Apartments, Rutgers University added a high-definition video board to show football games and major news events. It’s an outdoor gathering space with a nod to its high-tech community. Outdoor gathering is in, and housing officers who think outside the housing box will gain greater interest from this group.
For more, download our Executive Guide: Is Your Student Housing Ready for Gen Z?