The Gen Z Report: Understanding the College-Bound Mindset and the Five Gen Z Archetypes

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The Gen Z Report: Understanding the College-Bound Mindset and the Five Gen Z Archetypes

The latest research from

Get the research now

The Gen Z Report: Understanding the College-Bound Mindset and the Five Gen Z Archetypes

The latest research from

Get the research now

Who is Gen Z?

Born between 1996 and 2010, the members of Gen Z have a very different mindset from the generations before them. Especially when it comes to making a choice about college.

Identifying a need

As an agency that focuses on higher ed, we scour sources for great research on the current generation applying to college. But we found a big gap. There wasn’t specific research on this generation as it pertains to their motivations, communication preferences, aspirations, attitudes, and identities around the college search. So we conducted a research study to do just that.

Our panel

Our national study gathered 1,578 college-bound students representative of U.S. demographics, pulling from every type of race and ethnicity, community, region, educational background, and academic strength. Our sample ranges in age from sophomores in high school to sophomores in college, and hail from all 50 states. 

What we found

In addition to learning a lot about how they make decisions relating to college selection, who they are influenced by, and their understanding of the college process, the data we gathered revealed five distinct groups within Gen Z. We’re calling them archetypes, and we believe when you recruit by mindset, not demographic, you’ll get better-fit students. 

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Meet the five segments of Gen Z

These archetypes outline distinct personalities and values, which inform the way each group thinks about and ultimately selects a college. By examining these archetypes, you can better understand how students consume, interact with, and expect to receive information. This empowers you to create more tailored and meaningful experiences for the best-fit students you’re trying to attract.

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The
Idealist

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The Gen Z Idealist Student

“I don’t totally know where I’m going, but I’m on my way.”

21% of Gen Z population

Traits: optimistic, visionary, exploratory

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The
Overachiever

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The Gen Z Overachiever Student

“I’m not a ‘type A’ — I’m an A+.”

25% of Gen Z population

Traits: intellectual, motivated, future-focused

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The
Self-Assured

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The Gen Z Self Assured Student

“I was born to be real, not perfect.”

22% of Gen Z population

Traits: self-aware, confident, value emotional fulfillment

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The
Well-Rounded

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The Gen Z Well Rounded Student

“I know I’ll end up where I’m meant to be.”

13% of Gen Z population

Traits: high expectations, strong leadership, faith-driven

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The
Apprehensive

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The Gen Z Apprehensive Student

“IDK if college is my thing.”

19% of Gen Z population

Traits: undecided, homebodies, thrive on routine & structure

Meet the Archetypes

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Putting the Research to Work

It’s no easy feat to connect with this complex, diverse, evolving audience. Let us help you do it in ways that are both powerful and authentic to your institution. Below you’ll find discerning research, thoughtful analysis, and expert thought leadership in a digestible format. We believe it’s important to tailor these offerings to every institution. Let’s determine which option will work best to help achieve your goals and fit within your budget. Reach out to Ologie managing partner, Bill Faust, to discuss this opportunity. 

Contact us.

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The Gen Z Report: Understanding the College-Bound Mindset and the Five Gen Z Archetypes

A report that details the results of our survey with more than 1,500 students. Insights include communication preferences, decision triggers, influencers, visual and verbal cues, thought process on college selection, and more.

A behavioral analysis of each archetype segmented by outlook, attitude, and values shares insights of motivations, needs, and concerns and offers engagement recommendations.

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The Webinar: Connecting with Today’s Prospective Students

This live, 45-minute presentation guides you and your team through the results of our survey and the archetype data. 

Webinars are scheduled on demand through Ologie.

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The Student Union Compilation

Purchase the Gen Z report and webinar together.

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In-person Presentation

This podium presentation is ideal for communicator conferences or marketing/admissions team meetings. Content can be customized to individual institutions.

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