Spring is so close I can smell it. As I clack away in the 70 degree Alabama sunshine, the changing of a new season signals the beginning of a new cycle for college admissions professionals.

…but this one has a new batch of surprises waiting around the corner.

No one applicant pool is ever the same as the next. But, generally speaking, each cycle plays out with relative consistency:  We welcome in the next wave of freshman, again and again.

However, 2013 is bringing in a new breed of Millennials. One that has never before risen through the academy: the ‘mobile’ millennials.

The incoming class of 2017 was born in 1995. They aren’t quite Generation Z, but they can’t remember the 90′s either.

They have never lived in a world without modern social media. In 1994 (the year of their conception) Geocities became the first primitive social network to hit the masses. These babies were born straight into the social + mobile world, and, consequently, they were the first generation of newborns to be photographed with a mobile phone, and have since measured their life by bits, bytes, likes and shares.

Their entire memory, has been formed around increasing doubts about America’s future, the economy, and the value of a college degree.

They have never see a set of bound encyclopedias or owned a cd player, but many of them were issued iPads instead of textbooks during High School. At three years old, they picked up their first “Furby” and have since expected everything to interact back with them.

Education is shifting to a more individualized, highly-customized experience. In order to provide engaging education that brings lifetime learning, we must look at the cultural touchstones that have shaped the lives of incoming students.

Warning: The following facts may blow your mind.

The Class of 2017: Their “timeline.”

3 years old – Google changes the way we search the web.

4 years old – Netflix begins digitally delivering movies and TV shows.

6 years old – The iPod hits the market and changes the way the world listened to music.

7 years old – American Idol airs and “live voting” by mobile device becomes mainstream.

8 years old – Tom launches Myspace, and social media begins the climb to world domination.

9 years old – The first episode of Lost hits the airwaves. Facebook is born.

10 years old – Youtube adds a whole new element to searching the web.

11 years old – Twitter – and 140 characters – becomes popular. Toms Shoes launches the One for One Campaign.

12 years old – The iPhone took the world by storm.

Mobile is synonymous with this new breed students. It doesn’t simply represent who they are. It is who they are. It’s an extension to their personal-self. Since day one, it’s been primal aspect of their daily lives. Events that have reshaped our modern culture, have, for the first time, build the entire mindset and history of a generation.

A recent study showed that nearly 92 percent of college students acknowledged using their smartphone during class hours. 82% use them for school related tasks. 83% use them while walking to class.

And these numbers represent millennials born anywhere from 1980 to 2000. Remove anyone born before 1995, and the numbers get much closer to 100.

Modern students are digital natives who are comfortable with self-directed exploration and navigating the changing digital landscape.

And that’s means hijacking and hacking into educational activities that have remained steady and untouched for decades. Welcome, class of 2017.

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Author: Micah Whitehead is the Social Architect and Co-Creative at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.

photo credit: DaveLawler via photopin cc

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Verge Pipe Media is a strategic digital marketing and Public Relations agency based in Auburn, Alabama. We partner with our clients to develop their digital story and solve complex brand, marketing and communication challenges using our imaginative inbound marketing best practices.
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