It’s hard to believe, but after all these years of understanding and catering to Millennials, Student Housing leaders are now turning to consumers born at the turn of the twenty-first century. Many of those who were born after 2000—designated as Generation Z—are now walking the grounds of college campuses.
With their entrance comes the need for a whole new set of strategies to attract, engage, convert and retain students. This generation, who wants to be talked with and not at, isn’t shy about having a say or making an impact. Their numbers speak for themselves. Today, Gen Z makes up 25 percent of the population—more than what Boomers or Millennials fostered in their respective eras.
Naturally, with strength in numbers, their mindset is coveted by marketers and business strategists.
Engaging early Gen Z residents
One of the early adopters to get into the mindset of residents is RISE, a Conventional and purpose-built Student Housing developer, manager, and investment company. RISE is learning first-hand how to engage early Gen Z residents in their apartment life on and off-campus with an innovative program, bringing student feedback directly to its management and leadership team as part of their emphasis on collaboration and innovation to maximize value to students.
This program, known as the RISE Resident Advisory Committee (RRAC), connects twelve student residents from across the RISE portfolio and fosters interactive discussions on student expectations. While much of the process is digital, this group met for the first time in February 2018, a highlight at the annual RISE Leadership Conference. At the conference, RRAC interfaced directly with RISE property staff and managers, regional management, and executive leadership, creating direct connections among all stakeholders responsible for providing a great living experience.
Providing an outstanding student living experience
“We believe our biggest responsibility is to provide a great living experience for students, and we accomplish that with an intense focus on relationship-building,” said Courtney Gordon, RISE Executive Vice President. “We need to understand the resident perspective of what it’s like to live at RISE communities and know which aspects affect residents most, in addition to providing a platform for feedback from resident leaders through real-life experiences. The feedback we receive and the connections we make with our residents are invaluable to our business, especially when trying to meet ever-evolving student expectations.”
RISE also makes a commitment to their student’s academic success. The RISE Resident Advisory Committee maintains a regular communications cadence with RISE leadership, and student members are awarded scholarships—one as high as $5,000—at the end of their academic term. RISE also writes recommendation letters for members upon graduation in exchange for their time commitment to RRAC.
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