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How to Tailor Your Application Experience to the Gen Z Audience

by | Sep 12, 2021

For years, we’ve heard about what businesses can do to grab the attention of millennials. Considering that the youngest millennials are now about 25 years old, businesses—and especially colleges—are turning their attention to the next generation: Gen Z. Many members of this generation are finishing high school and applying for college, so universities will continue focusing on this audience for the next several years.

One detail to note is that Pew Research has found Gen Z to be the best-educated generation yet. They’re less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to attend college than previous generations, which means universities don’t have to spend time convincing them to advance their education. Instead, institutions will have to find ways to stand out from all the other colleges that are courting Gen Z students. If your college admissions team is not sure how to engage Gen Z college students, consider these tips to make the application process more appealing.

Use technology to your advantage.

Members of this generation grew up using technology regularly and are considered the first digital natives, as they’ve never known a world without the internet, mobile phones, and social media. This means it’s critical to use sophisticated technology solutions if you want to know how to engage Gen Z college students from the moment they visit a website.

Integrating technology into the college application process is a helpful practice when attracting Gen Z. Using an AI-powered support automation platform like Capacity can assist with common problems during the application process. If students have questions while they apply, an AI-powered chatbot can provide answers at any time of day or night. Without self-service support,  students have to wait for an admissions expert or request clarification, which slows down the application process and leads to abandonment. The use of advanced technology during the application process displays that your school focuses on the tech that will continue once they’re enrolled students—which is important to Gen Z.

Focus on affordability.

Research also indicates that Gen Z students are more worried about being able to afford their education and less willing to go into debt for school than millennials. In particular, more than half plan to fund their education through scholarships, grants, and part-time jobs. This means it is important to keep information on financial aid accessible on the website. 

This includes having an updated financial aid section that explains all the options to help pay for school. Another way to engage Gen Z college students is to add a chatbot to the site that prompts them to ask questions about financial aid and other important issues. This way, they can get quick answers to their questions. With Capacity, if the AI-powered chatbot can’t provide an answer, it will prompt LiveChat to take over so an agent can respond. Considering that most people—especially in younger generations—expect immediate answers to their questions online, having a chatbot available 24/7 is essential.

Be brief and engaging.

It seems like everyone’s attention span is short these days, but this is especially noticeable in younger generations. The average attention span of Gen Z is eight seconds. Compare this to the attention span of millennials, which is 12 seconds, and you’ll see why you have to be brief when you engage Gen Z college students.

The best way to do this is to keep written content short and free of fluff, with short paragraphs and important information bolded. If you can make a few videos to explain the application process, that’s even better because Gen Z watches more videos than any other generation. Be sure to put the most important points toward the beginning, preferably not more than eight seconds in.

Be authentic.

Another tip on how to engage Gen Z college students is to keep your content authentic. Don’t simply provide generic messaging, stock photos, or anything that could be seen as empty promises. Instead, cater to the fact that Gen Z values authenticity throughout the website.

Use pictures of actual students, classrooms, popular campus hangouts, etc. Gen Z also appreciates reviews and testimonials from past and current students, so make those visible on your website for applicants to look at. Putting these in video format would be even better if you want a chance to learn how to engage Gen Z college students. It’s clear that Gen Z values advanced technology, affordability, brevity, and authenticity. Fortunately, Capacity can help ensure your application features at least some of these.