Is Higher Education Necessary for Generation Z in Today’s Day and Age?
Updated: Mar 26
As a Generation Z student, I see myself oriented towards growth and development and giving back to help others for the greater good. To strive for excelling in my personal and professional life, being open minded, traveling and gathering new experiences and moreover living the greatest life I can live. Boundaries and limits of previous generations have become obsolete and I personally believe that not only is it the greatest time to be alive and almost every opportunity is available out there for us.
I see higher education as an option, not a must. Back in the day, the traditional route was to get a good education, a good paying job, have a family, save money and retire. Unfortunately, this is not the case anymore and financially it is not feasible, if even frowned upon nowadays as people expect that we should be doing more.
Stemming from an entrepreneurial background, I started my first “official” business when I graduated from high school.
When I think back on it, a good portion of whole life I’ve had an interest in either creating something, finding out how things work and helping others with my skills and talents. I also grew up in California, a state known for its creative freedom, technological innovation, arts and plentitude of things to do. Also going to an arts school and spending tons of time outdoors exploring and building as a child shaped a little bit of my personality of who I am today.
I see our generation as being at a pivotal time of humanity when boundaries are being disintegrated, free thought flourishing and this notion of the sky's the limit is very real.
The changes I have experienced from watching movies on VCR to DVD to Blu Ray to online in such a short time to ordering anything you want in the touch of a button, having food delivered to your door, a taxi waiting from you within minutes of requesting it or being in another country in less than a few hours is remarkable. Yet it is also overwhelming and challenging. This notion of being anything you want to be, absolute freedom and anything available has actually caused me to lose myself at times and lose touch behind the value behind it all.
This path of finding my way, listening to my heart, and discovering who I am through the midst of the madness of the world is truly the new higher education for Generation Z. The path of discovering who I really am, what do I really love doing and pursuing it.
When I was in Berlin, I met a guy my age and I asked him what he thought about Berlin. His response, “You learn who you really are living here.” I asked, “Why is that?” He answered, “You have everything you could imagine here.”
How does this relate to education? Because this above ideology is the exact disruptor of modern day education. With anything you want to know available online and technology doubling every 6 months and information every two years, you don’t even need to study in university. A degree is not necessary to understand and learn something. Of course, if you want to become a lawyer or a doctor, it is required. But apart from those specialisations, you could technically learn the knowledge on your own.
I did this starting my first business. I didn’t take a class. I learned myself online. After a couple of years, I became one could say successful at it. I started an online brand selling mid 6 figures per month in 8 countries worldwide being run from just my laptop. I thought I had made it.
Nevertheless, I was unhappy, had little of a social life and spent over 12 hours a day on the computer doing business. This made me make a life change and go into studying for not only having connection with people, but to also have a formal education where I can learn what I didn’t know I didn’t know and experience more of the world with a truly international education.
This led me to my journey studying business and hospitality at Hotel Institute Montreux in Switzerland. I went to the city of Montreux on vacation and after coming home, my mom mentioned the schools again. I flew out within a couple days by myself, visited and decided upon taking a new chapter in life and changed all I did on a moment’s notice. I invested my own money into my own education and made my own decision. When I turned 18, my parents told me, Igor, you are now an adult. When you live with us, you need to pay rent. You are responsible for your life.
I chose my education because I see it as a stepping stone to my future. At my school, it is always a mix of theory and real world experience and knowledge, from learning theory at school to doing a mandatory internship and applying that knowledge in the real world with a job we have to find on our own. I have learned how ignorant I was before and grown so much in the process of pushing past my barriers and comfort zone to become more.
This is what differs from me and others is that I am here out of my pure interest and desire to learn more. I pay my own bills. I make my money. I make my decisions. And I choose who I want to become. I see generation Z as being
more independent when it comes to an international higher education. We crave being able to be ourselves and learn what we want in the classroom.
I desire real-world and applicable knowledge, without the lack of formality and sitting behind desks and listening to a teacher blabber on for hours from a textbook. I want real depth, real life lessons and things that make me feel empowered to take action and learn. I want to learn through emotion and experience and not just from words. I want to go on field trips. I see the world as my playground for acquiring knowledge. As a student from my school, Bella Kim, stated on her blog post, “We are very realistic and practical generation. We don’t prefer to waste our tuition for an abstract and indirect course.“
I want to learn how to interact with other people and network when I am at school. To become closer and have deep, meaningful conversations with my friends and learn together and grow. I desire more connection, for it is lost through the very devices that “connect” me to others. And to learn material that is real-world applicable and also up-to-date. Finally, a return on my investment is important and if I feel like I am wasting my time and money, I leave.
Nevertheless, I have found the higher education as a generation z that I value. I see an international education as a stepping stone for a greater future and a process of self-discovery that is leading to a bigger and brighter future and goals. To find my voice, my truth, my passion and enjoy my life while I am here.
I believe Generation Z goes a step further and evaluates purpose and why before action. For example, as a finance specialisation student of Hotel Institute Montreux , I am looking at places to do my internship (e.g. a bank in Switzerland). I did not apply to many banks because I know those banks contributed directly to the downfall of 2008 and led illegal business practices in the interest of greed. Nevertheless, my dad said, but that’s what the industry is and forget about it. Instead, I said no, I don’t support that mission and instead I searched for firms that offer sustainable investing and private wealth management that is for the overall good of humanity, investors and shareholders and community. I expect people to do ethical and morally sound action and it’s okay to profit as long as it’s for the good of others and the greater good. And I see international higher education in the same way. It must be an equal exchange of value and not how the majority of students acquire student loans in exchange for obsolete information, leading to more than 2 trillion USD of student loan deficit in the USA.
At the university, I tend to be social and work well together in a team that support a common mission and is happy about their work and putting in the effort and be in harmony with each other.
I cannot tolerate people in this day and age that complain about why they are there and don’t put in any work. They have the choice to be here or not. If you don’t want to, why are they here? Additionally, I dislike superiority and hierarchy that is extreme and instead like to study on level playing fields with each other, similar to a holacracy. I love to work coherently and together, but also be independent in my own work and be able to take initiative as well as change things.
Nevertheless, to conclude, my focus on higher education as a generation z is not on simply obtaining money but also wanting to be happy, find my passion and discover what I love and more importantly what I don’t like, which helps too! This drive of self-realisation and fulfilment is much different than stating, I need to get XYZ degree, make such and such per year and that’s it.
The quality of our values, vision, desire and standards say a lot more to us about who we are, what we support and who we want to become.
What is something you have learned from higher education that is meaningful to you and on this journey of life?
Comment below. Your insights and knowledge could just be what someone else is looking to learn and discover!
Author: Mr. Igor Miller, BBA in Hospitality with Finance Specialization at Hotel Institute Montreux (from USA).