Born between 1997 to 2012, Generation Z is the most diverse generation in American history. Known for being creative, inclusive and tech-savvy, this generation likes a hands-on approach to learning and places a high importance on education.
According to the Pew Research Center, Gen Z is the least likely to drop out of high school and the most likely to go to college, compared with older generations.
As learners, Gen Z prefers interactive experiences over traditional passive learning environments. According to Dr. Karen Freberg, Gen Z is looking for engagement as part of their learning experience. Their embrace of unorthodox learning methods partly stems from the vast adjustments they’ve made during the pandemic, as remote learning and new ways of gaining an education became standard.
Not only is Gen Z more likely to go to college, but its members are on track to become the most educated generation yet. This group is motivated to learn new skills, and they have a strong drive to become successful. Based on polling, Gen Z is laser-focused on securing a better future for themselves, possibly as a result of the hardships and uncertainties they’ve faced in an era defined by the Great Recession, pandemic, climate change, mass shootings, protests over police brutality and other difficulties.
Facing these many uncertainties has made Gen Z resilient, but also more worried about financial security and anxious about the future. They hold quite a bit of the pragmatism and skepticism of their Gen X parents, who they’ve seen struggle financially through tech and housing market crashes. As a result, one in four Gen Zers describe their feelings about finances as “always stressed,” according to a Harris Poll.
So even though Gen Z lists higher education as a key issue they care about, they seek it in terms of its value and relevance. This means that their educational choices vary from past generations. There’s a shift toward more pragmatic majors such as health, computer science, engineering and biology, with less focus on the humanities. This indicates that Gen Z wants careers that guarantee success and stability in a fast-changing, uncertain world.
In fact, getting a job is the top reason cited by Gen Z for enrollment in college (as shown in the below chart from The Chronicle of Higher Education). This generation is attending college with the expectation of a return on their investment. As such, Gen Z prefers to have services over amenities. Instead of state-of-the-art facilities, Gen Z would rather have access to career development, mentoring, academic advising and internships. A whopping 79 percent say they would like to participate in employer internships as part of their college experience.
Gen Z understands the concept of getting a foot in the door and wants to gain first-hand knowledge. They desire integration between academics and practical experience. According to a study for the book Generation Z Goes to College, nearly 80 percent of Gen Z students said it was important that the undergraduate curriculum include real-world activities. And a recent LinkedIn study shows that Gen Zers want to learn their way up the career ladder.
As students, this generation is great at researching and finding information. They want to learn on their own terms and prefer bite-sized learning. Having grown up in the age of the internet, smart devices and social media, they’re accustomed to searching topics of interest for school, DIY projects and other interests. They regularly seek out new information and entertainment and enjoy learning in unorthodox ways, such as from videos on YouTube or TikTok.
To teach Gen Z, flexibility is of utmost importance. This generation wants to be able to apply concepts and gain functional skills when learning. They tend to excel when given more tools and options rather than fewer ways to accomplish a goal. In fact, 72 percent say they want a more customized college experience and prefer colleges that allow them to design their own studies. Programs that allow independent or collaborative work with control over learning options will allow these students to find the right balance.
Are you a Gen Zer looking for a new college experience? Accelerated Pathways is a non-traditional, online college program that gives you the freedom to earn your bachelor’s degree your own way. We provide a proven plan to earn an affordable online degree, graduate faster and reach your real-life goals. You’ll especially love our self-paced courses that let you study anytime, anywhere. Learn how it works!
The resume has been an essential part of the traditional hiring process for centuries, with the word “resume” deriving from the French word “summary.”
But can a short one-page summary of bullet points and buzzwords truly convey the information needed to fill talent needs and create equity in an ever-evolving job market? With digital disruption changing the future of work, is there a better way for job candidates to showcase their abilities?
Pearson recently held an informative roundtable to discuss this topic. In this blog, we’ll touch on some of the highlights and insights shared for candidates and recruiters alike.
Problems with the traditional resume
While a traditional resume may be good at presenting a candidate’s past, it may not be as good at reflecting their true abilities and talents. For most candidates, their past says more about what opportunities they’ve had in life rather than what they’re actually capable of achieving.
Unfortunately, many hiring managers use the resume at the top of a decision funnel to take shortcuts. They end up scanning for certain institutions, specific length of time in roles, a list of credentials and other qualifying factors that can end up discriminating against those who haven’t been given the same opportunities in life.
By choosing job candidates based on past access rather than actual ability, the cycle of disadvantaging others continues. This inequity built into the hiring process ensures that candidates who have had better opportunities are selected over ones who may be most qualified.
Ways to improve the hiring process
Across organizations, greater value will need to be placed on an individual’s skills as well as their actual outcome. To improve the hiring process, more opportunity should be given to candidates who don’t necessarily meet the desired requirements but may have the right skills.
This means looking at the resume in a unique way or requesting new types of information from job applicants, for example, work samples, assessments, storytelling, etc. Traditional qualifying factors like college degrees can still be valued, but at different points in the decision-making process. Job descriptions can also be updated to remove certain qualifications and years of experience requirements.
Jonathan Finkelstein, CEO, Credly, Pearson asks, “How do we bring about a world in which every person has the ability to achieve their full potential on the basis of what they actually know and can do?” Credly works to answer this question by helping people connect their verified abilities to actual opportunities.
By verifying abilities instead of work history, candidates who may otherwise be overlooked when decisions are getting made about talent can instead be centered. This allows organizations to inform human capital decisions in a way that brings more equity and access to the workforce.
Ways to improve the resume
Resumes of the future should become better at developing the story of the individual, rather than just providing a limited glimpse into the past. Candidates should try helping employers understand who they are and what they can do—not just what they have done.
By creating skill-based resumes with storytelling, you can better prove your potential as a job applicant and keep pace with the future of work. Find a way to convey your abilities – or even create the work you want to be doing. Video resumes, creative contributions, submission of work like writing samples, architectural plans, art portfolios or even spreadsheets showing accomplishments can also be helpful in telling your story.
Finally, don’t forget the power of the cover letter. You can use it in unorthodox ways to expand on your journey. Instead of just sticking to a traditional cover letter format, try explaining where and how you acquired skills, your influences and even a bit about your personality and passions.
Job trends for the future
As the world adjusts to rapid changes in the job market, many are asking how the role of humans in the economy will shift over the coming years. Faethm has found that, for many industries, core human abilities like empathy, imagination, creativity and emotional intelligence will become more valuable in the workplace as automation takes over many roles.
While some jobs will be eliminated, other jobs will be created and, in many cases, in areas where humans prefer to spend their time and energy. As these types of soft skills gain value to employers, candidates will need to become better at conveying their stories and capabilities in creative ways. In turn, employers will need to become better at looking beyond the traditional resume and top-down hiring process to assess candidates.
Mike Howells, President, Workforce Skills, Pearson sees the transformational potential in the future of work to empower the individual. “In every aspect of our lives, we now have access to an enormous range of data, insights and opportunities to figure out what works for us and how to get it. Whether as a consumer or employee, we now have access to an amazing array of data-driven tools to personalize our experience and find solutions to fit our needs.”
Summer is a time to unwind, enjoy life and reconnect with friends and family. But sometimes all that downtime can lead to ennui—a feeling of listlessness—especially after days of lounging by the pool or getting bored with the same options on your streaming services.
That’s why more summer breakers are mixing up their playtime with engaging, productive tasks like learning new skills and taking new courses. Summer can be a great time to catch up on goals you’ve been wanting to accomplish, and it doesn’t have to take away from time relaxing or enjoying the outdoors—especially when you can take online courses anytime, anywhere.
Ready to use some of that vacation time productively? Here are four great reasons to take online courses this summer!
1. Discover pet projects
Summer courses can encourage you to learn new things—perhaps even form a pet project! During summer, you may be exposed to educational opportunities you wouldn't otherwise have the chance to experience. Maybe you’ll be traveling to a country with an interesting history and know of a course that will tie into that knowledge. You could even dig into your surroundings to write your assignments on the culture or other aspects of your journey. Perhaps a foreign language course would be the perfect complement to your trip?
Or maybe you’ll be working a summer job, internship or volunteer opportunity and know of a course that pairs well with it. This could be a great time to take a computer, web design, digital marketing or even programming course. One recent graduate recommended taking advantage of any opportunity to tie assignments to current events or topics that you’re passionate about. She recalled using an Essentials of Speech assignment to practice learning and discussing topics that are business critical to her job role. The knowledge she gained created tons of value in her professional life and made the assignment much more enjoyable.
Summer is a great time to focus on specific topics that are relevant to your summer activities. So why not pair them up and get the most out of your summer experience? By focusing on just a few courses over the summer, you can concentrate on subject matters that stoke your passions.
2. Find your work-life balance
Each person has a different work-life balance that can take years to discover. For younger adults, it can be hard to know how much time to dedicate to work vs. life. The right combination is different for each person. Many older adults find themselves realigning their careers in mid-life after they finally figure out what work-life balance makes them feel healthy and happy.
Summer is a great time to begin to determine this balance for yourself, especially if you have some time off and the flexibility to set your own schedule. You can try out different summer vacation study plans to discover the right balance between relaxing and enriching yourself. Do you find that after an hour of relaxation, you’re ready to do something more productive? Make note of those types of feelings.
One summer plan suggests relaxing for two weeks at the beginning of summer, then studying for two hours per day until you figure what works best for you. You can also try a spaced learning approach to switch up topics and give yourself more breaks between study sessions. This can make learning easier and more engaging, especially when you’re in vacation mode, by switching up subjects at regular intervals. Keep tweaking your schedule and feeling out what seems like a healthy balance.
It can also be a good idea to take note of your energy level. For example, are you a morning person who is best at concentrating in the first few hours of the day? After lunch, you may feel sluggish or less able to focus on difficult concepts. In this case, you can plan your summer vacation with a couple hours of study in the mornings—maybe at your hotel or a café—and then go out in the afternoon to explore. If you’re more of a night person, try the opposite. Or maybe you like to study in little intervals?
Just bring your laptop along and pay attention to what works for you! This will help you figure out the type of work-life balance and routine that you enjoy best.
3. Finish college faster
You’ll be amazed at how much faster you can graduate from college just by taking some extra courses over the summer. Even if you take a lighter course load or choose easier courses, it’s a great idea to fit in some study time between your summer activities.
By taking summer courses to speed up your graduation date, you not only save time—but money! The longer you spend obtaining your degree, the less time you’ll have to start or advance your career and earn more money. In addition, students who finish their degrees early get better selections in the job market, according to Monster.com. Employers look favorably on job candidates who finish their degrees quickly because graduating faster demonstrates good organization, determination and work ethic.
Some college degree programs give you the flexibility to fast-track your degree, in addition to taking summer courses. So if you’re wanting to finish college as quickly as possible, look for an accelerated degree program that lets you structure your college experience to complete your general education courses in a compressed format.
4. Keep your learning momentum
Summer days can drift by slowly… and then end abruptly! That feeling can shock your system at the end of summer when it’s time to get back to life. It’s easy to fall into a lull right around July and start to lose your routine, which can eventually lead to unhealthy habits, unproductive choices or just a slump that makes it difficult to get back into the swing of things.
Figuring out a good study time management routine can be hard to establish, especially for students who are newer to college. It may take a few months to form good study habits. However, if this momentum breaks during the summer months or long vacations, it can be difficult to regain—even for experienced students. That’s why taking even one or two courses over the summer can help you keep up a good pace.
A good summer learning plan—with even one or two courses—will help you to maintain some semblance of focus and stimulate your mind in between those spells of partying in the sun. When you return to school after your break, you’ll be able to pick back up with no major hitch.
At Accelerated Pathways, we think summer should be a time to have fun… and learning can be a part of that!
Ready to polish up your skills in between sunscreen applications? We make sure you have all the tools, support and flexibility you need to enjoy and succeed in your studies—anytime, anywhere. Make good use of your downtime this summer. Check out our courses and register today!
Meet Mallory! Her attempt at traditional college didn't work out so well. She knew her abilities weren't the same as neurotypical students. But when given the chance to craft her own flexible learning path, she proved more than capable and discovered that her prior failure was a symptom of trying to force a square peg through a round hole—not a lack of ability.
Given the right learning tools, Mallory soared!
She just completed 21 courses through Accelerated Pathways and transferred to Waldorf University to finish out her Bachelor of Sciences in Business Administration with a Concentration in Management. Did we mention she did all this in two years while working full-time at a large telecommunications company, enjoying her personal life and managing neurodiversity?
Mallory recently shared her inspiring story with us in an interview. Check it out!
Could you share a bit about yourself?
Sure thing! I am an adult neurodivergent student. I initially pursued a traditional college education a decade ago, but I ultimately had to medically withdraw. Instead, I entered the professional world at a large telecommunications company with a Tuition Assistance Program. This eventually led to my decision to pursue a business degree.
In my personal life, I am passionate about giving back to my community. I currently volunteer on the American Cancer Society’s Cattle Baron’s Ball board, as well as a local animal shelter. One of the most exciting parts of my personal life is that I am an adult amateur dressage rider. I am starting a brilliant young horse that I purchased with little to no training. I hope to take her up through the levels and achieve a United States Dressage Federation Silver Medal.
What made you want to go back to school?
I currently work in corporate management. Returning to school and earning a degree is a requirement for me to continue to progress in my career.
"Degrees open doors in career paths like mine, and I ultimately want to earn a master’s degree."
With my current company, I have the incredible opportunity to access our Tuition Assistance Program as part of my benefits package. This program has completely funded my bachelor’s degree, and I could not pass up such an incredible opportunity to develop myself and further my career.
What was your experience with the Accelerated Pathways program?
The courses and material were so approachable, and I loved the self-paced nature of the program. I have so much test anxiety. The comprehensive presentation of course materials helped me feel prepared and set me up to succeed. I loved the ability to own my experience and customize my approach to the day-to-day coursework to my individual needs.
“I am neurodivergent and I have learned through this program just how unique my individual needs are compared to the needs of the students who excel in a traditional college environment.”
I thrived in the empowerment of being handed more tools than I needed and set free to craft my own educational experience. I had the freedom to move through modules at my own pace. I was able to try different study approaches and the curriculum moved along according to my availability and comprehension within the course dates. I cultivated my own unique approach to the coursework that enabled me to succeed.
What was your experience with the Accelerated Pathways team?
I had the most incredible experience with the Accelerated Pathways team. This program truly changed my life and radically changed my perception on how accessible a degree is. Thanks in large part to this program, the entirety of my degree, including costs after transfer, will cost less than many students spend to attend a year of public university.
“My academic advisor was critical to my success and a cornerstone of my experience. She was always in my corner and incredibly supportive. Her belief in my ability to push through and accomplish difficult things truly made a difference.”
Anytime I had a question or technical issue, my academic advisor was right there and facilitated the support I needed. She set the bar for my current academic advisors at Waldorf University extremely high!
What time management techniques have worked for you?
Since I get test anxiety, I found it helpful to work through all the course material without the pressure of taking the graded assessments right away. I took a first pass at the course material to identify what I was already familiar with vs. what I needed to spend more time focusing on prior to taking the graded assessments. After reviewing the topics that I needed to spend extra time on, I went through and took all the quizzes but waited to take the tests and final later. I used my performance on the quizzes to identify which topics I needed to invest more study in prior to taking the tests and final exam.
“The ability to tailor the courses to suit my individual needs and comprehension really set me up for success.”
I did have an experience advantage in some of the business courses, as I use a fair bit of the material covered in my professional life. Because of this real-world experience, I was able to move through some courses much faster than others. I also planned strategically around which courses to take based on my personal strengths and weaknesses.
Any advice you’d give to new Accelerated Pathways’ students?
So many things I would love to share with new Accelerated Pathways’ students!
"First, I would advise them to throw away every preconceived notion of what college is supposed to be and explore how to make their educational goals fit into their current abilities and lifestyle."
During the majority of my time with Accelerated Pathways, I worked extreme amounts of overtime through a global pandemic – managing a global telecommunications delivery team. My college experience so far has been consistently atypical, but that works for me. Between October 2019 and March 2022, I completed 21 courses then transferred into my target college. I also made time for my personal life including training as a competitive equestrian 5-6 days a week.
"Second, I would advise students to work closely with their advisor."
It is so important to be honest about what they are struggling with as challenges arise and be open to approaching things differently. Sometimes all we need is a different approach to get around a roadblock. My academic advisor was a call I always looked forward to and she truly was the MVP of my experience in this program. I cannot speak highly enough of her.
"Third, I would advise students to take advantage of opportunities to tie assignments to current events or topics they are passionate about."
I will admit I often accepted a few point deductions on graded assignments because I took them in a direction just slightly outside the guidelines. It made the investment in the assignment useful for more than just checking a box academically, which also made it far more meaningful. My intention is to get an education for the sake of practical application and personal growth, NOT simply for the sake of academic achievement.
For example, I used several of my Essentials of Speech assignments as practice for discussing topics that are business critical to my role, and I recorded all of them using our business tools. The format of our enterprise presenting tool and some of the presentation skills practiced among our executive leadership did not quite meet the preferences and expectations of the professor. That said, the practice I gained presenting with our tools created so much value in my professional life. I am not suggesting that anyone deviate too far, but it becomes significantly easier to prioritize creating original coursework when it is about a topic you are passionate about.
My final thought for new students would be that a college education’s purpose is to expand knowledge in ways that are useful on an individual level. Constantly seeking opportunities to add the value of making a course impacting your personal or professional life makes the experience meaningful.
“Do not waste this opportunity simply checking the boxes for academic achievement. Make this investment add value across every aspect of your life and create a journey you enjoy and are proud of.”
How was the transfer process to your target college?
The transfer process was far easier than expected. I actually began my degree plan and completed it in its entirety with the intention of going to Strayer. While I was getting ready to apply, I had an instinctive feeling that I needed to consider a few options, as so many things change over the course of a few years. I considered several schools but knew immediately what my choice would be when I looked into Waldorf. Every credit I earned has transferred in and after my evaluation I am much closer to graduation than I expected when I applied.
“My academic advisor was a wonderful support resource answering my questions and providing guidance for processes."
When I mentioned wanting to consider multiple options prior to transferring to make sure I chose the perfect school for me, she was extremely supportive and helped me find my way.
How many classes do you have left until graduation?
I have 13 courses remaining to take at Waldorf, and I am hopeful to complete them and graduate in May of 2023.
Any post-graduation plans?
I have a few big picture goals. I absolutely have my eye on a Master of Professional Studies in Business Architecture and Transformation from Penn State Online. I am keeping my options open though. So much can change in a year, and I could easily see myself taking a break from school to start a family or pursuing a different degree/school. It is a huge goal to get a master’s degree.
We hear you might be getting a promotion at work?
There is an opportunity for me to step into another aspect of the business and learn an entirely new skillset – very exciting! I work with so many brilliant people and I am honored to even have been considered for this role.
“This career progression will translate wonderfully to the next phase of my education.”
I will be taking on a business-critical role with specialized required skills and knowledge that correlates well to the higher-level business courses I have planned to take in the upcoming year. I have kept my leadership very closely up to date with my degree progression, and I am certain that my effort and accomplishments in career development off the clock played a role in my selection.
How has your education helped you in your career/life?
My education has facilitated an immense amount of growth and development in all areas of my life. It has truly changed my perspective on my worth and abilities as an individual, a professional and a student. I have only recently learned to look at neurodiversity as a fact, rather than a problem or illness. My abilities and strengths are simply not the same as someone who is neurotypical. I often saw myself as lesser because my neurodiversity did result in failures such as my attempt at the traditional college experience.
“This education has enabled me to prove to myself how capable and able I am. It has helped me learn my failure was a symptom of trying to force a square peg through a round hole, not evidence of lack of intelligence or ability.”
I never thought I would be able to accomplish as much as I have in the ways that I have. My experience is unique—like me! What works for me may not work for every other student. It is my sincere hope that my success and my story can reach others who have had the same struggles and showcase just how capable we truly are. My biggest takeaway from this journey is that failure does not mean I cannot do something, it only means I cannot do something under the conditions I originally attempted to do it.
Phenomenal! Thank you for sharing, Mallory. Your journey is truly inspiring, and we’re so proud of you!
Ready to be our next student success story?
At Accelerated Pathways, we love to share the accomplishments of our students. Learners come to us from many different starting points on their educational journeys, and we pride ourselves on finding the right path and support for each individual to succeed and grow. Learn how our program works!