Influences of generational preferences on the academic advising process: A case study analysis of Generation Z students and academic advisors



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Generation Z makes up the largest student population on traditional college campuses, as this generation encompasses first-year students. This generation is characterized by never living in a world without the internet, and consists of individuals born in or after 1996. Although little is known about Generation Z college students, much research shows that academic advising has a positive influence on student success and retention especially for first-year students.
The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of Generation Z students and academic advisors, about academic advising. The specific foci was on how Generation Z students perceive academic advising affects their academic success, what academic advisors perceive are the differences in advising students from various generations, and how does Generation Z students and academic advisors perceive the advisor-advisee relationship.
Qualitative methodology and collective case study research design was utilized to address the research questions, and the study was framed based on a conceptual framework of a generational model created by Strauss & Howe (1991). The participants consisted of two Generation Z, first-year students and two academic advisors who each had at least 10 years of advising experience. The data collection sources included the researcher’s lens, semi-structured interviews, field notes, reflexive journaling, and documents. The constant-comparative method of coding was used to analyze the data collected, and trustworthiness of the study was focused on throughout the research process. The results of this study showed that there are generational differences in the students that academic advisors work with, as well as changing practices to fit the needs of Generation Z students. Additionally, Generation Z students appeared to be confused and somewhat dissatisfied with the advising process. Another result was that there appeared to be incongruence in that the students wished for a relationship with their academic advisor, but did not perceive that they had one. There are several implications for higher education practice based on the results of this study, including the need to provide training for academic advisors about generational characteristics and preferences. Additionally, advisors should clearly explain the purpose of academic advising and the role of the student in the process in order for advising to be effective. The results of this study support that generational differences and preferences of college students exist and being knowledgeable about these differences could help academic advising departments and higher education institutions more effectively retain Generation Z students.



Academic Advising, Generation Z, Generational Preferences