What higher ed marketers need to know about Gen Alpha


As higher ed marketers, it’s easy for us to keep our focus on Gen Z — the here and now. But we’ve already got our eye on the next crop of students: Generation Alpha, whose oldest members will be enrolling in college before we know it. So we’ve combed through trusted sources, gathering insights and predictions from demographers, social scientists, market researchers, and educators, to get you primed for what’s next. If you want to capture the interest of this up-and-coming cohort, you’ll need to know who they are and how to talk to them. Here’s what matters to Alphas, and how it relates to you.

What does Gen Alpha care about?

Family. Spending months in isolation brought Alphas difficulties (stress and fear) and rewards (family bonding and increased creativity). They watched closely as their parents responded to extreme challenges and demonstrated resilience. Being home together — learning, listening, working, and living — strengthened their relationships and extended the influence of their families. 

Questions to consider: How can you tap into and strengthen the qualities and values that families are seeding in their Gen Alpha children? How can you reach their Millennial parents in ways that resonate with their priorities for their children?

Inclusion and Authenticity. As the largest and most diverse generation in history, Alphas aren’t interested in labels or waiting their turn. They’re determined to build a better and safer world, where representation is key and action is valued. Race, ethnicity, gender identification, sexual orientation, physical ability, country of origin, culture, language — these divisions hold little meaning for them. 

Questions to consider: Are you ready to listen to Alphas, who will expect to be heard? Are you acknowledging and respecting students for who they’ve already become? How can you harness the skills they’ve already gained at a young age? How do you honor their desire to have a voice, capitalize on it, and use it to move forward?

Global Understanding. Technology has given Alphas broad access and invaluable insights into people who are like and unlike them. Through the internet, they can travel almost anywhere, meeting and befriending young people who face realities that are similar to and very different from their own. As a result, they evaluate inclusion on a global scale. 

Questions to consider: Are you tapping into Gen Alpha’s informed understanding of the world by connecting prospective students with others who have shared interests? Are you willing to take down walls and provide opportunities for them to talk informally with their peers among current sophomores and juniors — and not just the superstars?

Climate Change. For Alphas, there’s no debate about the importance of taking care of the environment. They either see their elders taking steps to be more environmentally conscious, or they see examples on social media about how habits can lead to bad outcomes. They see right through false promises, and have seen the projections: in 2030, global climate change will be irreversible unless significant action is taken now. 

Questions to consider: How do you demonstrate your commitment to the environment — in tangible ways that echo the urgency they feel? Do you offer them real opportunities to engage in this and other critical social issues? How will you help them feel connected to the cause, and active in making real change?

What now?

Want to read more about Alphas and how they’re different from Gen Z? Would you like to see a breakdown of their tech-connected mindset? Maybe you’d appreciate an introduction to their Millennial parents? Or a look at the implications of their attitudes for higher education? The findings in our Gen Alpha book will help you start a conversation with your colleagues so that you can ask the right questions, identify better opportunities, and set the stage for the generation to come. That way you can take action sooner rather than later — because you’ll be sending communications to these kids before you know it.

Click here to download the full report.