It seems that society likes to give names to our generations, and to classify them as groups with similar characteristics. We had the post-war Baby Boomer Generation and the Me Generation (Gen X), closely followed by the Millennial Generation (Gen Y). Although the Millennials are just coming into their own as the dominant demographic, there are already signs of a new group on the horizon. Too young to have a name yet, this group is simply known as Gen Z. Generally thought of as those born from the late 90s on, this group contains the youngest children to students now completing high school. There are about 60 million members of Gen Z in the U.S., so what can they learn from their older Millennial cousins?
• Start Planning Now for College: It may seem like college is in the very distant future, but it can be surprising how quickly the years will fly. Millennials found out that getting into college and paying for it can take a lot of work and planning. Better to space it out over several years than try to squeeze everything into a few months of the senior year of high school.
• Save, Save, Save: Same thing goes with the money – start saving as much as you can now. Millennials were surprised at the costs of a higher education, with many getting over their heads in debt to afford it. Look closely at how much it costs to attend your college of choice, and find out how much they usually provide in financial aid to their students. Financial aid can play a big role in choosing which college to attend. If you are not eligible for a large scholarship, you could be forced to borrow money or might need to attend your second choice of college. The more money you save now, the less money you will need to borrow later.
• Be Smart About Student Loans: One thing Millennials learned the hard way is that student loans are not a free ride. They borrowed more than they needed, used the money unwisely, and now have their lives complicated with monthly payments due that are larger than what they earn. Members of Gen Z definitely need to learn a lesson from this experience, and think very hard about how and why they borrow money.
• College is Still Worth the Cost: Millennials with a college degree are still out-earning their peers who stopped at the high school diploma. Despite the rising tuitions and uncertainty about student loan payments, the members of this generation believe that the costs are well worth the benefits.
Finally, Millennials can teach their younger cohorts about the benefits of working part-time during the college years. Not only does it help defray some of the college costs, it also provides valuable work experience that looks good to potential future employers. If you’re a Gen Z member, it’s a good idea to pay attention to your elders!