How millennials are changing business schools for the better
The high-tech revolution. The first African American president. A renewed emphasis on workplace culture. Millennials have lived to see it all and have welcomed the progress not only as spectators but as participants. You can see the effects everywhere, and business school programs are no exception.
"South Florida is probably one of the most competitive MBA markets in the world," said Vegar Wiik, executive director of Executive Education at Florida Atlantic University's College of Business.
And to that end, millennials have come to expect a new brand of business training--one that's tech savvy, enlightened culturally and wide open to possibility.
To be sure, millennials have changed the delivery and culture of business education in ways big and small. Here are the key characteristics that mark millennial students as special -- and powerful -- in the business school climate.
Millennial business students value diversity
"Diversity is just a given these days; in Southeast Florida, everyone's from somewhere else," said Ken Johnson, PhD, professor and associate dean of graduate programs at Florida Atlantic University's College of Business.
Millennial MBA students respect and reflect that quality, Johnson said, noting: "If you look around, you see so many students of different hues and accents. And with the millennials, they don't worry about who you are or where you're from. They're all more connected and it's so much easier to understand that other person."
Millennial business students embrace technology
Millennials have grown up with digital technology and influenced business schools to see all things as mobile and flexible.
"We're using the lever that technology provides to us by broadcasting our classes live, and we're shooting to provide the content with a turnaround of 15 minutes," Johnson said. "If you can watch Netflix or Hulu on a computer, you have access to education like never before."
Johnson added that on-demand class content is crucial for millennials because "you can work your schedule around it where you won't have to sacrifice between your income and your education."
Nor is it limited to a student's laptop. "You can watch the lecture on a tablet, and we can push it all the way down to a smartphone," Johnson said. "We take great pride in pointing out that you can watch an entire lecture on an iPhone."
Millennial business students do more with less time
With search engines and YouTube, millennials have mastered the art of absorbing lots of information in short bursts of time. Similar to online learning site Khan Academy, the best MBA programs offer condensed versions of lecture content in chunks of 10 or 15 minutes. "It's giving the consumer a better product set. They have more to choose from," Johnson said.
Time considerations also extend to how campuses serve students. "We handle their registrations and have an open-door policy where you can come in to our offices and get help from day one," Wiik noted. "Your focus is on studying and getting an education and everything else is taken care of by the staff. It's a one-stop shop."
Millennial business students are changing the recruiting game
As the competition for degreed millennials increases, traditional recruiters have to sweeten the pot. The website mbaprograms.org notes that millennials expect a solid work-life balance, with day-to-day flexibility.
"Companies are responding to these concerns by slowly changing the culture in their offices," the site reports. The enticements run the gamut from once-a-week telecommuting to a select day where everyone gets to leave early.
And Millennial business students are ready to succeed the Baby Boomers
Millennials are poised to reap big benefits as Baby Boomers retire. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, total employment in the U.S. economy is projected to grow by 15.6 million from 2012 to 2022 to reach 161 million--an increase of nearly 11%. And for those in the business and financial operations field, the increase will shoot even higher: 12.5%, BLS estimates show.
What's more, those numbers don't reflect what the BLS calls "replacement needs. If an occupation is expected to grow by 1,000 jobs but 2,000 people retire, then 3,000 hires are needed. The phenomenon is known as Baby Boomer Drain, and it looks to have huge positive impact on millennials with MBAs.
With a wealth of choices, millennials will continue to change the shape of business education. That's not just for now but also the decades ahead--even as they grow older and try to balance the demands of work, home and a return to school for that valuable advanced degree.