Is this one of the quietest threats to higher ed?

Join us for this week's episode of Most Clicked where we discuss one of the quietest threats to higher ed: Millennial parents.

One of the quietest threats to higher ed: Millennial parents.

Here’s a generation that got degrees on mass only to leave university and fight for free internships. That sucks. It’s the sort of story you TELL YOUR CHILDREN. The oldest of Gen A are now 12 years old and in 6 years they will be rocking up to study. In 4 years, most of them will be attending open days. How do you plan to educate their parents on what university is today?

Millennials viewed apprenticeships as second to a degree but today, degree apprentices consistently outperform graduates. Millennials studied with no integrated work experience. but today, it’s common for students to work a year in industry. Millennials handled careers after university but today, careers are woven into the curriculum. Millennials applied for graduate schemes but today, universities help young people start businesses. Millennials saw education as a “passport to a career” but today, education is just one piece of the puzzle.

Soon, you’ll be dealing with a new category of parents. Get ready to welcome Millennials back to campus. Check out the LinkedIn post.

Nathan Monk
Hello, and welcome back to Most Clicked. Every week we are bringing you one hot topic from the Education Marketer newsletter. I’m your host, Nathan Monk from SMILE, and I’m joined by Matt Lees also from SMILE, but Kyle Campbell from the Education Marketer. So this week, we are talking about millennial parents, and I think, yeah, we’re all we are all millennial parents. So we can be the first-hand guests here on Most Clicked. So Kyle, what’s the story here?

Kyle Campbell
Okay, so this comes off the back of a LinkedIn post I put out and I publish on LinkedIn, pretty much daily. Some stuff performs decent, and then some stuff really surprises me. And this was one that surprised me. So I wrote about how millennial parents are possibly one of the quietest threats to higher ed. I know that sounds quite dramatic. But what I’m going up against here is looking at the perception of higher ed from a millennial, and how that perception is passed on to the upcoming generation, generation A, as they’re making their university choices within the next four to six years, the oldest gen A are probably around 12 years old now. And it occurred to me that if you think about a millennial’s perception of what higher education is, it is vastly different to what higher ed is today.

But the other thing that adds something quite troubling to the mix is that if you’re a millennial, and you graduated after the financial crash, you tended to have a very negative experience of getting a job getting into the job market, despite having an incredible amount of education. And specifically for myself, and for a lot of my peers, it’s sort of left a little bit of a misconception about what the value of higher ed is. Now I’ve worked in higher ed about 10 years. So I am enlightened. I know universities have changed. I had a lot in that time period. But the vast amount millennials who don’t work in higher ed, they’re not aware of the differences. And as a few examples, I picked out like for a millennial, considering university as a choice. University was viewed as the high method. Whereas apprenticeships were not viewed as a track that you would consider, now degree apprentices outperform graduates, right. And there’s other stuff as well, like graduate schemes. That was the basic route that a millennial was told to do. That was what your careers adviser would tell you.

But nowadays, career teams are advising people on how to start their own businesses how to go freelance how to take advantage of all different routes into employability. So there’s a big disconnect between a typical millennial’s understanding of HE and the reality of what it is today so they could be quite a loud critic. And this seems to resonate with the people by the post and a lot of people in the sector so it’s clearly an idea that’s been floating around I guess, you know, I was probably one of the first to kind of chuck it into a 300-word post. But I just thought it was a really interesting topic, I’m curious what you guys think because, for me, I think with gen A coming up through the ranks I think millennials is going to be a serious gatekeeper and potentially a quite a quiet threat to higher ed in the next four to six years.

Matt Lees
I thought the examples that you picked out were spot on. One, in particular, I can draw close kind of comparisons with around universities nowadays helping people to start businesses and that was anything but the case when we did our degree and I don’t think we were really prepared for what working life was going to be like that. It was kind of made out that we were and we were given briefs that were around eight or 16 weeks long, but in reality, it’s never actually lived up to that and you know we get briefs now that we need this yesterday you’ve got no time no money to do this with. So yeah, it doesn’t align and the and the bit about starting businesses, I think we actually had more detractors than supporters whilst we were trying to set up our business and we’ve got that personal experience because Nathan and I started our business whilst we were at university as part of our final major project. So yeah, I think we can draw comparisons there.

Screenshot of the discussion from Most Clicked #22 discussing millennial parents

Kyle Campbell
I mean, I think so it’s it, even if you look at it, for me, there are two categories of millennials right? But not in general. But in terms of the HE issue. So you’ve got those who graduated post-crash, and those who graduated pre-crash, and both have a skewed idea of the value of education, right. So, if you were lucky enough to graduate pre-crash, you actually had a half-decent time, because you know, the market was pretty good. And, you know, with your education and no practical experience, you could walk into a decent entry position. But even though the case still leaves you with a bit of a weird understanding of you know, that university value, doesn’t it? Because if you went to university today, and you didn’t do any work experience for three years, or any kind of work base modules, you’re going to have a bad time.

So there’s a whole reeducation programme, especially around parental comms that needs to happen. Because right now your typical parental comm is talking about why University and issues around that it’s not necessarily trying to break down a solid pre-existing understanding of what university is because someone went to university. So there’s a lot of there’s a lot that needs to be undone there. So parental comms probably, you know, next few years, I just think they need to be looked at very closely and how they’re delivered. I mean, what’s a parental comm look like now? A lot of it’s in a PDF, isn’t it a guidebook? Is that how information is read today? I’m not too sure it is. So there are questions about it.

Nathan Monk
Well you know, it’s two brand new generations. And I think in recent memory, we’ve had the kind of, there’s been a lot of talk around Gen Z and stuff like that, but the parent generation just hasn’t, hasn’t really changed significantly at least. But with millennial parents coming in, I feel like that’s quite a big shift in how they are going to communicate like we’re gonna see digitally native parents at this point. It’s going to open a lot of doors, but it also means that HE has got to adapt to that that incoming generation, you know.

Kyle Campbell
Yeah, and you’ve got, I think, for the first time ever you’ve got both for parent and the child who are digitally native, isn’t that terrifying. I don’t think there’s much forgiveness left is there. So there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. And again, this is why I called it a quiet threat, I don’t see it spoken about a lot that this isn’t just like moving to the next generation, you’ve got the two coming together, haven’t you? You’ve got two new types of digital natives coming into campuses. But soon, yeah.

Nathan Monk
Also, though, maybe it’s gonna be maybe it’s kind of early warning signs that people need to start getting ready like this is coming, you can’t stop this. So it really is a case of what can you do now to prepare and it might not mean you know, completely overhauling things, but it might just mean laying some foundations for things that are going to pay off in three to five years down the road. Because the whole you know, the gen A thing is not it’s not like an immediate threat. But yeah, it’s coming. And I think that as with anything in life, the better prepared you are, the better the payoff is gonna be. Right? Well, I think that just rounds off this week’s episode on Millennial parents. If you have enjoyed today’s show, please do drop us a like or subscribe. But until next week, next Monday. See you soon

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Elliott Barnicle

Lead Designer