Just how have millennials changed higher education in the US?
Millennials have been a topic of many heated discussions, causing more than a few opposing, fervent views on this controversial generation and its role in the modern society. However, regardless of the diverse attitudes towards millennials, nobody can deny the profound effect they’ve had on higher education. The changes brought by the millennial generation have truly redefined modern education.
Dynamic learning environment
Millennial students have a completely different attitude towards learning and education, which has greatly affected the modern learning environment. Traditional, teacher-oriented methods are seldom appealing to the Millennial generation, who are looking for a more dynamic and stimulating environment. Instead of sitting and listening to monotonous lectures for hours, millennials would prefer a more comprehensive learning experience that would enable them to participate, put their knowledge into practice and discuss different subjects in depth. Millennials don’t want an environment where they would be treated as passive recipients of knowledge, but as active participants in achieving their educational goals.
Teacher’s role: guidance, support and mentorship
A different type of learner calls for a different type of teacher, which is why the teacher’s role has changed dramatically in the Millennial-inspired classroom. The traditional teacher-student relationship is rather formal, characterised by professional and distant communication. What Millennials are looking for in their teachers is guidance, real-time feedback, support and mentorship. They also want to feel connected to their teachers, which has brought about more personalised approaches. Great student-teacher rapport can truly inspire Millennials, spark their interest in a subject and enhance their engagement. This need for guidance and mentorship can be seen in Millennials’ relationships with their employers, as well.
Millennials’ desire for a more active role in their education has led to their greater involvement in the classroom. Namely, more and more educational institutions are leaving behind teacher-fronted lectures in favour of group and pair work. Not only does this generate more interest among Millennial students, but it also enhances their learning, causing better retention of knowledge. Collaborative learning projects and group discussions are being more and more implemented in higher education, which results in more motivated and engaged students.
Millennials as teachers
Another change that has resulted from the abandonment of the traditional teacher-oriented learning environment is Millennial students assuming the teaching role. Having become more engaged in and responsible for their education, millennials are often given the role of a teacher. From smaller presentations to entire lectures, students have become more in control of their own learning. Not only does this provide them with a valuable experience, it also contributes to a higher knowledge retention and enables Millennials to see things from a teacher’s perspective, which can bring them closer to their teachers.
Master’s degree as imperative
With higher education being more accessible than ever, enrolling into college has become a logical step for the millennial generation. A college degree is often a standard criterion for a great number of job applications, so more and more students are pursuing master’s degrees as a crucial factor that will make them stand out from other candidates. Since employment opportunities have greatly decreased and education costs have soared, the interest in the best ROI colleges has increased. The Millennial generation is one of highly educated and knowledgeable individuals who are pursuing higher levels of education to enhance their future career prospects.
Growing up along with the development of technology, millennials are highly technologically adept, which has greatly affected their learning environment. Having become an essential part of everyday life, it was only a matter of time before technology would become an important learning tool. Although not all educational institutions can afford the state-of-the-art devices, the modern classroom has become greatly digitalised. From digital whiteboards and classroom computers to online learning platforms and group chats on social networks, technological advances have become deeply rooted in modern education.
Such a technologically-revolutionised learning environment has inevitably gained a virtual dimension. Not only can Millennial students complete certain assignments online, but they can also sign up for online courses owing to the availability of distance learning. Some universities provide students with the possibility to sign up for certain courses entirely via the Internet, granting access even to millennials from the other side of the world. Furthermore, this has also opened up numerous opportunities for non-formal education, which is quite valuable to the generation of individuals who put great value on personal growth.
Diverse student communities
More and more educational institutions are trying to provide millennials with diverse and dynamic student communities. These institutions allocate their resources to campuses, student clubs and organisations, as well as opportunities for internships and social engagement. Facilities, staff and finances are devoted to a single generation in order to provide them with the best education and student experience.
From reversed roles in the classroom and new teaching methods to online availability, modern education has certainly been redefined in order to meet the needs of the millennial generation.
Millennials have clearly shaken up higher education. College and university experiences have been transformed by millennial attitudes and expectations. It will be interesting to see what’s in store next for higher education when a new generation takes the helm.
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