What Millennials and Gen Z really think about on-campus services
When it comes to student satisfaction, researchers are finding that what matters most is the student experience, regardless of where they attend college.
Surprisingly, how students engage and interact at college turns out to play more of a role in satisfaction than the type of institution they attended. That’s according to a Gallup poll examining the link between life at college and well-being at work once students graduate.
But what constitutes a great student experience? Millennials and Gen Z have made it clear that they want their voices to be heard, they want their study time to be unimpeded by poor facilities and noisy roommates, and they require up-to-date technology to support their studies while they’re in school.
What services do current college students like the most?
- Avenues for voicing their concerns and opinions.
When it comes to the campus services that students value, one clear area of much-needed improvement is with communications. Millennials and Gen Z students want their voices to be heard, whether it’s for airing their complaints or voicing their opinions.
In a 2016 University of California system-wide poll, students were asked how satisfied they were with certain aspects of their educational experience. They reported being most dissatisfied with communication with their department. When asked about whether they felt there were open channels of communication between them and faculty, scores were significantly lower than other factors describing the faculty-student relationship. Open channels of communication regarding student concerns, needs, and suggestions is one area of development for the statewide campus system.
In a similar poll at the College of the Redwoods, students were mainly concerned with their ability to issue complaints. In that study, they expressed the least satisfaction with channels for expressing their complaints, out of all the other “campus climate” questions.
- Comfortable, supportive environments for studying.
Back on the University of California study, over half of the students who responded reported that lack of good study environments was a major concern for them. Issues ranging from inadequate computer resources, bad internet access, and even noisy roommates get in the way of studying.
- Computer Labs are Up-to-Date
The College of the Redwoods study also compared student responses to community colleges nationwide. This helped them discover where they needed to concentrate their efforts in order to increase student satisfaction. One area was the state of their computer labs. Students felt strongly that this resource was neither adequate nor accessible enough for their liking.
Similarly, they expressed dissatisfaction with lab facilities, which they felt were not current.
Keeping a Pulse on What the Newest Generation Really Thinks
As a result of their system-wide student poll, the University of California now has the data to support a campaign for major student satisfaction initiatives. One is a push for more square footage dedicated to quiet study areas in their student centers.
Another takeaway from that same data can be applied to on-campus cafe space. If cafe locations can serve as both gathering spots and study areas for students, it’s a win-win situation. Students gain because they have more options when it comes to places to study and cafe-like establishments gain because students are more apt to frequent their businesses.
Likewise, the University of the Redwoods student survey resulted in data supporting more investment in technology. The data showed clearly where they were failing, compared to community colleges nationwide: computer facilities and lab facilities.
Some of the findings of these student satisfaction surveys are surprising while others seem to fit a general pattern around what we already know about Millennials and Gen Z. The bottom line revolves around the importance of gathering customer (student) feedback, and with this generation it’s all about harnessing mobile for those survey results. Only by leveraging technology can campuses begin to keep a pulse on what the newest generation really thinks.