My name is Jess Kennedy and I’m a mixed Millennial.
I was born at the end of 1989, which, according to modern definitions, labels me as Generation Y. However, looking back, I feel like I grew up and went to college with Generation Z people, the wave of population addicted to technology and diagnosed with FOMO (fear of missing out).
And even though Britney Spears pumped from my stereo as a kid, the only band I could think of while writing “When They Can’t Get What They Want: How Colleges are Complying With Students’ Needs” was The Rolling Stones.
When it comes to what students expect out of colleges and their technology, I think Mick Jagger is right: you can’t always get what you want.
Based on my research, students, especially GenZers, come to college with sky-high demands: unlimited Wi-Fi across campus, video walls stacked across sports stadiums, phone apps to unlock dorm doors and digital signage flashing a bright welcome back.
While these technological amenities are dazzling, I think they cause colleges stress. A hefty chunk of the colleges I’ve interviewed for my articles have said they chose in install some of these solutions to stay competitive, relevant and to woo prospective students.
But, some colleges can’t afford such luxuries and have to vie for students’ attention with old fashioned methods.
I support a prominent technology presence in college classrooms, but I think that today’s college students need to pump the breaks with technological demands.
First, I think that if students trim their wish lists, they’ll learn to simmer their technology addiction and seek out human interactions for information.
Second, I think that developing modest wants will reduce a college’s risk of failing to please and reduce student transfers, and will help a college stay up and running longer.
Third, I think there is nothing wrong with having to use an Ethernet cord to connect to the internet every once in a while. Not having Wi-Fi is pebbles among the other boulders of adversity a campus faces (such as safety).
My point is that students aren’t making their college experiences any cooler by having such high demands (in fact, it may even up the price tag of some colleges, and student debt is already high enough). Colleges are businesses that specialize in educational services; they know how to deliver.
Toning down students’ demands will grant some room to breathe.
It will establish a tighter marriage between satisfying students’ wants and providing students’ needs. And, it may even save colleges a few extra bucks while granting their reputation a fresh coat of polish.
Video: A brief reflection on how colleges are maintaining students’ needs, and what students can do to help them.