Who Your Students Are

Published: August 2013

World events and popular culture contribute to the shaping of each generation of students, making their collective identity unique. How well do you know the undergraduate students you'll be teaching this year? Do you know how many of them are new to Nebraska or the U.S.? Every year another few thousand students begin their studies at UNL, and how many you see depends on the classes you teach. Understanding the demographic makeup of your classroom will help you decide how to set expectations for your students and how to approach your material. The accompanying figures are created from the latest data (Fall 2012) published on UNL’s Institutional Research and Planning (IRP) website.

About one-quarter of the graduate students at UNL are international, but only 6% of undergraduates are international.

The average freshman that begins this Fall semester will have been born in 1995. They were two years old when Princess Diana died. In 2000, when your students were 5, they saw India's population hit 1 billion. Popular TV shows your students grew up with included American Idol and Hannah Montana, and they listened to Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. Your students weren't alive when the Berlin Wall came down, and 9/11 happened when they were in the first or second grade.

As members of the "M
illennial" generation, your students are interested in learning by doing. They have grown up with instant answers through technology, which means that they expect emails to be answered quickly. While they may be "digital natives" who interface with technology seamlessly, your students have most likely not mastered difficult and multi-part searches through Google or the library website.