Communicating Across Generations

ScholarNet Blog Articles | February 19, 2019

Connecting Generations

If you work with students, you already know communication is key to providing them with the support they need to reach their educational goals. But when it comes to the methods you use to communicate, there is no one-size-fits-all solution that will resonate with all of your students. Now more than ever, people of all ages are choosing to continue their education, whether it be straight out of high school, or returning after some time in the workforce.

When dealing with students of differing ages, it’s important to recognize the needs and challenges they face, and how they differ from those of their classmates. Let’s take a closer look at how to better communicate with all of your students, regardless of age.

Understanding Demographics

When dealing with an audience made up of a wide range of ages, it’s imperative to know a bit about where each group is coming from. There have been significant changes in the world between the Traditional generation to Generation Z, and these changes have created notable differences from generation to generation. Understanding these differences is key to successfully communicating your message. By personalizing your approach with the language you use and how you connect to each generational group, you are more likely to make the desired connection. For example, baby boomers and Generation-Xers generally have an inclination to communicate via phone and email, while Generation-Y sends text messages, tweets, and instant messaging. Millennials tend to use abbreviations, informal language, and colloquialisms to communicate. Make sure you’re utilizing a range of channels to spread your message in order to be sure you’re meeting everyone’s needs.

Learn Their Language

While students of varying age groups may all have different ways of communicating, it is possible to get your message across clearly. Avoid using jargon that might not be understood by everyone, and experiment with using multiple ways to share your message. For example, are you only sharing updates on social media? Try sending an email, or posting flyers on campus to make sure you’re reaching everyone, even those who don’t use social media.

Don’t Generalize

Just because a student belongs to a particular age group does not mean they communicate the same way their peers do. Keep your communications and delivery methods varied to allow students to receive your message in the way that makes the most sense for them.

Listen Up

Are you hearing feedback from students about pain points in your communication? Use it! Giving your students an outlet to tell you about what they’re experiencing and using that feedback to make changes is a great way to meet their needs. It also lets them know you’re in their corner and ready to support them through any challenges they face.

Get Support

Communicating with a wide range of students can be difficult, but you’re not alone. Share your successes and failures with other financial aid professionals from other organizations to keep the communication conversation going. You’ll pick up ideas along the way, and help others with your tips. The MyScholarNet group on LinkedIn is a great place to start. Here, you’ll find a safe space to hear and share ideas, voice frustrations, and learn from others in the industry.

In the meantime, keep checking ScholarNet Central for information on the world of higher education. We’re dedicated to supporting you as you support your students!

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