Attending the NACADA (Academic Advising) Region 3 conference this week, I heard a lot of talk about the Millennials (Gen Y).

These words were used to describe this generation:
– Special
– Sheltered
– Achieving
– Confident
– Team Oriented
– Pressured
– Unable to think critically

As a “millennial” myself, I can agree with all of these descriptions in some ways, but does that mean we treat every student based on these assumptions? No! Would our jobs be easier if we could use the same advising method with every student? Of course, but I also think my job would be rather boring.

While all these words may in some ways describe the millennial generation, I think it’s extremely important we remember that within this generation are students who have a variety of personality types. I think it’s the personality types, at the end of the day, helping me realize which approach to use with my students.

Working in an advising center where we only utilize one on one appointments, I can see the advantages and disadvantages of this approach. While yes, I think the majority of our traditional students want the one on one appointment because they desire the opportunity to share with their advisor the semesters happenings, etc. I also think about our extremely introverted students whose worse nightmare is sitting down one on one to talk about life, classes.

You may think I’m crazy to say group advising may be a better fit for our introverted students, but this approach gives them the opportunity to hear answers to questions from other students they may have not asked for themselves.

The group approach may also be encouraging to our “less organized” students. Maybe their roommate attending a group session would get them there? (Yes our students need to learn responsibility, but would it be such a terrible thing if we meet them halfway and work with them to get the where they need to be?)

I’m not saying there’s a wrong or right way to go about advising sessions, but I do think it’s time we consider options rather than doing things the way they’ve always been done.

If we’re going to talk about Millennials and how we have to do so much to reach them, why are we still operating the same way we always have? And why are we pretending Millennials come from a cookie cutter a can all be treated the same?

One thought on “Millennials

  1. I think you’re spot on–group advising could be very beneficial. I can see how a lot of my students would find that appealing and would benefit in the ways you asked. One characteristic on that list actually supports that: pressured. Sometimes these students feel so much pressure–to do well, to know it all all the time, to be high-achieving–that they’re scared to ask questions. But small groups draw questions out and make students feel more comfortable. It’s why we use small groups for collaborative exercises in class. It seems obvious that the same thing would apply to advising.

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