Northeastern University releases report on ‘Generation Z’

Northeastern University, a New England Council member, recently released a comprehensive national survey that reveals the views of “Generation Z” —those born in the mid ’90s or later. Northeastern’s President Joseph Aoun, who serves on New England Council’s Board of Directors, along with American Public Media’s Marketplace presented the report at a summit in Washington, DC on Tuesday, November 18th.

The survey reflects the outlook of 16 through 19 year olds on various issues facing them today, including higher education options, financial concerns and social policy issues. Self direction is a theme throughout the survey results; 63 percent of respondents want to learn about entrepreneurship in college, and 72 percent said that colleges should allow students to design their own major. Nearly half expect to work for themselves one day, which is four times higher than the actual percentage of self-employed Americans. The report reveals that ‘Gen Z’ is also highly aware of the importance of higher education, with over 80 percent of respondents saying that college is very or extremely important to achieving the career they want. The majority also believes that the benefits of a college education outweigh the costs. At the same time, more than two-thirds of respondents are concerned about being able to afford college.

After the survey was presented, a panel moderated by Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal discussed its findings and real-world implications. The panel featured President Aoun; Amy Scott, education correspondent for Market­place; Bridget Terry Long, the Saris Professor of Education and Economics at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; and Keyaun Heydarian, a 17-​​year-​​old high school senior.

President Aoun addressed the report’s findings, calling for higher education institutions to respond to the motivated and self-directed nature of Generation Z. “A new generation of Americans is on the rise: highly entrepreneurial, pluralistic, and determined to take charge of their own futures,” he said. “Those of us in higher education must listen to this next generation and enable them to chart their own paths, gain valuable experience, and become the leaders of tomorrow.” When questioned, Aoun pointed out that Northeastern offers an opportunity, not a product, to its students. He added that as opposed to a product, which has a short shelf life, the opportunity offered at Northeastern includes entrepreneurship, which teaches students not only how to succeed, but how to successfully pick ones self up and try again after failing.

‘Meet Generation Z’ is Northeastern’s fourth national Innovation Imperative survey focused on the future of higher education and its relationship to the global economy. The New England Council commends Northeastern on the comprehensive survey, and thanks the University for remaining a national leader in innovative higher education.

Watch a video of the event, or read more about Northeastern’s Innovation Imperative Series online.

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