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All About the Modern College Student

Written by College Cliffs Team At, our team, comprising seasoned educators and counselors, is committed to supporting students on their journey through graduate studies. Our advisors, holding advanced degrees in diverse fields, provide tailored guidance, current program details, and pragmatic tips on navigating application procedures.

Reviewed by Linda Weems I got started researching colleges and universities about 10 years ago while exploring a second career. While my second career ended up being exactly what I’m doing now, and I didn’t end up going to college, I try to put myself in your shoes every step of the way as I build out College Cliffs as a user-friendly resource for prospective students.

Updated: February 23, 2024, Reading time: 27 minutes

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Gone are the days when students attended college armed with just a notebook and some academic books. Today, this learning style may be deemed old-fashioned!

With technological advancements on the rise and digital tools continuously being developed, a complete turnaround in college education has gradually started, and it is still ongoing.

Higher education now operates in various forms of learning, with classes that are now so much more conveniently different from those in the past decades.

To educators, these changes are just the tip of the iceberg; it is a sneak peek into the broader potential for educational improvements in the future.

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College Cliffs is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Blended Learning Curriculum

Blended learning refers to any educational strategy that combines digital and traditional teaching methods to help students learn. It is highly effective at assisting with long-term information retention in a diverse student body.

A meta-analysis conducted by the Education Department showed that student performance in both online and face-to-face classes was somewhat similar.

However, those who participated in the blended curriculum have shown better academic performance, given that 25 percent of the classes were a combination of digital and in-person courses.

According to John Katzman, founder of The Princeton Review test prep company, “blended learning” demonstrates significant positive outcomes when an actual instructor mixes digital materials along with personal experience and real-world application. 

Characteristics of the Current College Students

Many researchers and experts have referred to the current college students as pragmatic. Students claim that the reason they acquire higher education is to develop skills and talents that will allow them to land sustainable jobs and earn a living. 

Contrary to their predecessors, students now merely study to earn personal values and widen their social circles. They are more into taking up specific majors that come with job opportunities in the future. Despite not having passion and interest in such majors, they are determined to finish it for the sake of landing a secure job. 

When it comes to dealing with adversity, modern college students appear to be better than any other student class. They typically possess an optimistic viewpoint, project possible outcomes, and can adapt to technological advancements much quicker.

However, politically, they are somewhat pessimistic about the future of their country and rarely become involved in such activities.

Despite having the confidence and courage to surpass challenges before them, this current generation of learners is afraid of failure. Having a larger sense of privilege compared to past generations, they quickly achieve success and improve their abilities, expecting recognition and applause in between.

For the past 30 years, grade inflation among U.S. college students has been recorded at 0.1 points per decade. Resulting in a “give me” attitude purely based on participation rather than earning.

These characteristics of modern college students have been a great contributor to higher education’s expediency these days. Online methods of learning are perfectly matched to the preferences of the current young learners, matching the learning with a faster, sometimes more efficient, pace.

Impact of Technology on Student’s Learning Behavior

The behavioral pattern of students is influenced by technology in many ways. Technology-related research conducted by the Pew Research Center tackles parents’ issues with their children’s screen time. Many parents claim that parenting is now more challenging than twenty years ago.

The main wrinkle to parenthood’s challenges is expanding social media and the ongoing innovation of technological devices like smartphones. Parents now find it harder to catch the undivided attention of their teenagers when having family time. The shift to virtual learning made it even worse to the current upending length of screen time. 

An article published by The New York Times mentioned the worries of teachers regarding students’ over-dependence on digital technology, which hampers their attention spans and decreases their perseverance during difficult trials. Instructors and professors claim they have to exert more effort to capture and maintain the attention of their learners. 

Another issue some teachers have about their students is referred to as the “Wikipedia problem,” which means that students have grown to be over-reliant on the information found online.

Instead of reading, thinking critically, or applying skills taught in school,  students easily give up and turn to search engines for answers. Many teachers believe that the internet is responsible for influencing such behavior of the existing students. 

To justify and mediate the impact of the internet on students’ learning habits, one can also emphasize the many advantages and conveniences that digital technology has contributed to students’ lives. Here are some of the positive impacts:

The worldwide web offers a vast pool of websites to gather information about any topic under the sun. The internet is, without doubt, the most effective tool for expanding your knowledge. Search results usually provide millions of sites and links to even particular topics.

Citizens from all places worldwide can communicate and share their ideas and thoughts openly through social media or any online platform. Not only will you be more aware of the social issues in different countries and governments, but you will also learn about numerous cultures.

Tools and Tech for Modern College Students:

Students in the current generation are supported and equipped with technological expertise and resources. They come in different mediums, devices, and tools. Incoming and existing college students rely on these technologies to ease them through their educational journeys.

Nowadays, teenagers are researching for college admission guidance more than ever before. In the past, it was mostly young adults preparing themselves for their new educational tracks that matched their preferred interests.

College-bound students need tools and technology to guide them with the right information about the schools they want to attend. In the past, incoming college students relied on printed brochures and leaflets for information about universities and their programs.

They also need to physically visit and tour campuses to satisfy their questions and concerns about their college life.

But nowadays, most universities and colleges have websites that offer virtual campus tours and entertain queries through emails and online chatting platforms. 

Here are some of our reliable suggested tools for college-bound students:

College Search Tools

  1. College NavigatorSuppose you are looking for an excellent search tool that will provide you with intensive college data. In that case, you can look up College Navigator, which is offered by the National Center for Education Statistics. All the school information is presented on this site, mostly numeric figures about their student enrollments, test scores, retention rates, and financial aid offerings.
  2. U.S. News and World ReportFor college rankings, this is your best tool to rely on. They have a steadfast report on colleges all over the United States. Every year, the U.S. News and World Report releases rankings for top colleges and universities based on a specific set of criteria. Their information is widely used by students all over America. 
  3. College BoardAcademic profiles are shown, so these are essential for incoming first-year students. Narrow down your search through demographic preferences, percentage of minority students, specialty majors, and unique housing options.

Financial Aid Tools

1. FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

This financial aid tool is the holy grail for most college-bound students. It is always wise to apply for student loans since college education fees are relatively expensive.

Many colleges and state governments present aid programs to students who will be eligible and have submitted the FAFSA form before the deadline. You will be able to check which kind of aid is a perfect fit for you as you choose among the options that you have been qualified for. 

2. Net Price Calculator

The U.S. Department of Education has structured a Net Price Calculator Center in which students can make smart estimates of their college tuition. You can search for any school’s fees and costs because colleges and universities with federal aid programs require net price calculators for their prospective students.

Scholarships and grants will be deducted, giving you a net price for your educational fee. This is a helpful tool for you, so you will have an estimated cost and prepare for it financially. 

3. Federal Student Aid

Student loans are quite an overwhelming topic for many students. Thus, it is imperative to gather as much information on many resources online. Get ready to have a comprehensive guideline on applying for federal educational aid by visiting the Federal Student Aid website. This site will give you all the requirements, types of support, application procedures, and loan repayment details. 

4. Scholarship Search Engine Tools

Exhaust your efforts in making sure to land the most valuable discounted tuition fees by thoroughly searching for scholarship opportunities. Many colleges, universities, nonprofit organizations, private businesses, corporations, and charitable foundations award scholarships to qualified candidates.

Check with your preferred school first as to what kind of scholarship offerings they have. And, you may also check out some of the hundreds of reputable scholarship programs offered by many institutions. You can use search tools provided by Career One Stop and Fin Aid

College Websites

Due to the unbridled use of smartphone devices by many teenagers these days, schools and universities have designed and reconfigured their websites to make them compatible with mobile viewing.

Forward-thinking colleges and universities understand educational technology’s vitality because of the increasing percentage of young learners’ mobile admissions.

Students have turned to mobile platforms for college research and submit their college applications online, too! With about 67% of prospective college learners using their smartphones in doing such activities, it is undeniable that schools should continue to adapt to shifting their sites into a mobile-friendly setting. 

Social Media

1. Facebook

According to a survey conducted by Zinch, 68% of the student respondents surveyed mentioned that they use social media to research universities or colleges. In a social media survey, 55% of the respondents said they utilized Facebook to check the school’s background information.

The best merit of this social media platform is that it will allow you to keep up with the current news and events, quite like Twitter. However, if you are a more visual type of person, then the photos and video postings will lure you in better. 

Although school websites offer virtual tours and reliable information about their whereabouts, colleges tend to maintain an updated Facebook page connecting to their communities, current students, and alumni. These schools understand that most prospective students are familiar with social media platforms and are more comfortable using them as social search engines.

Maintaining these pages will attract more students and allow them the opportunity to spread information faster, with prospects, students, employees, and alumni sharing their information with the world.

2. Twitter

If you love reading tweets, you might prefer visiting the university’s and colleges’ Twitter accounts for updates and announcements. You will see what’s going on on their campuses and be informed of their news events and activities. Day-to-day happenings and issues are easy to acquire because of the short-form content design on Twitter.

Not only can you access the university’s official Twitter account, but every department or significant program might also own its own Twitter page. You will have unlimited access and feel what it’s like to be part of such a community.

You can engage in interactions by commenting and sending direct messages on Twitter since most of the school’s social media managers are responsive to their followers. Grab this chance to inquire about aspects that appeal to you.

Moreover, utilizing “hashtags” associated with your candidate of choice will give you more glimpses of other student’s and faculty’s perspectives and opinions. You can even follow and stay updated with the Tweets of particular school counselors and administrators.  

3. Instagram

Quite similar to Facebook, Instagram is another social media platform that highlights its visual elements, giving you more sense of what the campus is like. You can imagine a bigger picture of what a school is through their photos and short video clips posted on their stories and Instagram profile accounts.

Behind-the-scenes pictures are sometimes uploaded so that prospective students can learn more about what a school does in a daily setting. Some admission offices post “insider photos,” like upcoming announcements and decision letters that have not yet been released.

Hence, you will feel the excitement from these posts portrayed as a teaser or trailer for their next event and judgments. 

Active interaction with their followers is also a given in this social media platform. Schools can connect and interact with current and prospective students through the application’s direct message and comment features. 

Videoconferencing Technology

Many incoming newcomers students are dealing with a sense of confusion as to which college or university to attend. After all, some schools offer the same quality of education and social experience for students. Digital tools and platforms might be one of the minor things that can win a student’s heart.

When comparing schools, a student might plump for an institution that holds an organized videoconferencing technology for learning and online classes.

These telepresence tools are leaving a significant impact on college classrooms. Many college-bound students consider universities that offer online classes because they want to be able to choose to attend classes in the comforts of their homes.

Schools that have invested in online platforms and high-definition cameras and displays will more likely keep up with online learners’ demands. Modern undergraduates nowadays want to be offered diverse learning opportunities. 

Applications and Software for College Learning

Numerous tools, specialized software, and programs are currently available at the disposal of college students. The industry for developing educational software and applications is growing significantly, targeting colleges and universities as they shift to the new way of virtual teaching. 

Simplify your transition to college by taking advantage of different educational apps. Here are some of the consolidated productive software and online tools that will support your college tasks to be more straightforward:

Social Networking Sites

1. LinkedIn

There are many things that you can achieve with a LinkedIn account. It’s a great medium to use in networking and building career relationships with classmates, acquaintances, employers, and peers. Despite being still in college, it’s never too early to establish sustainable relationships that can last long-term.

Browse through your contacts, get introduced, and branch out your networks. Fill out the profile page and upload your resume and references. Invest in the smart way of social networking, as this can be beneficial after graduating from college. 

Quality groups and associations are formed so that students and employees can connect. There are also available widgets wherein you can link and attach your social media accounts to your LinkedIn profile. But make sure to assess carefully if you want your professional colleagues to know about your whereabouts.  

2. Stunited

Be able to facilitate higher education on a global scale. Grow your network by joining Stunited, an online social networking site perfect for college students who want to connect, interact, share ideas, gather different opinions, and discover many opportunities.

As a comprehensive networking platform, it unites students, professionals, tutors, educational organizations, and businesses to form connections for many purposes.

You can chat with your educational networks no matter where their geographical location is. Informational and helpful resources are made available within reach as you join and become a member of Stunited. You will have the chance to help and lend a hand to fellow students from around the world.

3. Graduway

Having a more profound connection than just being college acquaintances, Graduway gives you opportunities to enhance and deepen alumni relations.

Graduway’s tagline is “Empower your alumni network,” which means that this platform carries out occasions for you to discover your past college friends and peers. College students may also unravel job offerings that are generously offered by fellow former students. 

For schools and universities, this virtual community claims to win in four aspects: for colleges to attract prospective students, guide their existing ones, engage and keep in touch with alumni, and cultivate donors. But as a student, you’d like to explore this site and see how it can widen your social connections.

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Online Learning Apps

1. Duolingo

Tagging itself as the best platform that will help you learn a language, Duolingo provides learning materials in more than 35 languages. Whatever is your weak point, it will highlight and improve your skills like speaking, reading, writing, grammar, and listening.

Although it is available in the free version, you can pay a minimal fee. You can have unlimited access to lessons without advertisement disruptions and with no internet connection required. 

This app offers the best thing because they have an English Proficiency Test, which is accredited by some colleges all over America. 

2. Khan Academy

What makes this learning platform unique is that it runs as a nonprofit online institution, providing both teachers and students opportunities to interact effectively, resulting in a world-class and deepened education free for any learner worldwide. 

Many sorts of subjects and learning materials are created by experts and are contributed to Khan Academy’s library. Students’ needs are met by genuine and committed teachers who use this user-friendly interface to create a tailor-fit classroom style.

You can explore any subject and coursework as a student, or if you have the expertise that you wish to share with younger students than you, then grab this chance to help your fellow students gain understanding in such courses. 

3. Wikipedia

Having the record as the fifth most visited website globally, it is no longer a surprise as many students everywhere have depended continuously on Wikipedia in many instances. It is said that 40 million articles are researched and accessed monthly. Users of this software are not limited to young learners because even doctors rely on some information. 

As it replaced the conventional encyclopedia, these free online resource tools are conveniently used for educational and informational purposes. Students navigate through articles and share with their peers and classmates; as they exchange information, they develop their critical-thinking skills.

Note-Taking and Organizers for College Success

1. Evernote

With a reasonable annual price of $69.99 for a premium version, you can maximize the features that Evernote offers. It is a task-management system and note-taking software that allows you to organize your to-do lists, save links, and convert photos and screenshots into digitalized documents. 

A unique function of Evernote is its ability to decipher the words that are found in photos, which includes those that you have written in your handwriting. It helps keep records and save time from searching a specific page in your class notes.

2. Google Drive

Considered a classic and fundamental tool for many learners and even professionals everywhere, Google Drive is helpful in all aspects. Its primary use is the free Google Cloud storage, where you can save any document and file and be able to access it on any device without fear of losing or erasing it. 

It is perfect for your term paper, thesis, and written projects that you want to write on multiple devices while sharing the same documents with classmates and team members. 

3. Google Calendar

Are you having trouble keeping up with schedules both in your personal and school life? This application tool is a must-have for students who have many things on their plate. You can schedule events, set up reminders, share your available time, and note important occasions. 

This is also a standard software used by most professional workers in the corporate world, as it productively aids them in forgetting any task or significant event. Get accustomed to using it now and stay organized no matter how hectic your school life can be.

Virtual Classroom Apps

1. Blackboard App

U.S. colleges and universities utilize this learning management system because of its user-friendly interface. College students can access their coursework in their online classes, and it’s even suitable for those who have brick-and-mortar classes, who use virtual components at the same time. 

You can fully take advantage of the benefits of digital blackboard style anytime and anywhere you are. A digital learning experience like this can be accessed through any mobile device so that learning will have no boundaries. Students can get course content, view their grades, take exams, and submit projects and tasks.

2. Canvas Student

Famous as a free educational app, Canvas Student allows students to access coursework just like the Blackboard app. You can submit assignments and view grades as you track down your academic performance virtually. 

This application is available for Android and iOS users, so you can also use it on your mobile gadget. It’s an all-in-one tool for students as they participate in discussions, organize their to-do lists, keep track of their calendars, and even send messages to their classmates and teachers too. Many U.S. colleges have patronized using this application as well.

Tips to Maximize Your Studying and Learning Practices

College could be pretty tough for many students. Some might feel burnt out due to too many assignments, projects, and exams. In this era of modern education, it is sufficient to say that college students have many things on their plate.

High school learning habits have been discovered as ineffective in college, according to some students. University professors are no longer as involved and personally invested in teaching a small group of students. Classes are more significant, more rigorous, and competitive.

Add to that the pressure of getting high grades, and it might get ugly for any student who just wants to finish their higher education. 

The National College Health Assessment mentions that stress has affected 30% of college students in America–and these numbers are changing fast in light of the psychological distress brought about by the pandemic

Perhaps one factor in eliminating stress is finding the best way to learn more effective study skills. Modern learning practices could either make or break a student’s college journey.

Apply effective methods of college study routines, experiment, and see which habits work for you. Here are some effective strategies to stay on top of your game:

Be accustomed to The Study Cycle.

The Study Cycle is a theory developed by Frank Christ and was discoursed in Saundra McGuire’s book, entitled Teach Yourself How to Learn. It is a guide to help you develop the best-studying routine that will match your daily life.

Steps like the preview, attending classes, studying, reviewing, and checking your understanding are mentioned in this guide, and a student might claim that they already know these basic ways of learning.

But what they fail to see is that each step involves sole importance of its own, and if it is bypassed due to taking shortcuts or being mediocre, it might lead you to ineffective study habits in the end. 

Skipping one step, like not reading before class, will lead you to miss out on learning opportunities. All the steps on The Study Cycle may seem obvious but are proven to work for any student.

After all, it is never smart to cram, read, and study everything when the exam is already approaching. You need to invest enough time to stock up and generate enough knowledge and understanding of your course materials.

Go beyond reading. Study actively by engaging in the materials.

Reading and studying are two different methods that often are misunderstood by many students. To read is not to study. Yes, it could be referred to as pre-studying. However, learning in its vital sense is to engage in the material you are reading actively.

Studying is the process of understanding through constructing the meaning of the texts and materials while connecting it with what you have learned in lectures and discussions.

There are various ways to make sure that you are doing active studying. Here are ideas to help you get started:

Understand what the study environment works best for you.

Some people can focus and study more when they are at a library, with pure silence. However, some students need to listen to some background music to decipher what they are learning actively.

Different strokes for different folks, so this goes the same for your noise environment, too. Understand what noise environment you prefer and which ones help you maximize your learning.

Avoid multitasking.

Multitasking has been deemed bad for college students. The lack of concentration on one particular lesson could disable them from absorbing and grasping what they should be studying. Grades would slip as a result of half-learning and not entirely focusing on their schoolwork. 

In this digital world, modern students have too many distractions that can entirely hinder them from investing in their studies.

Common Sense Media provided a report stating that half of the teens confess that they would watch T.V. or use social media while doing their assignments, and about 60% of them said they text their peers while doing homework. 

Break your multitasking habits by applying these tips:

Keep your phone out of reach.

Although you are mature enough to know that using your mobile phone won’t do you any right, it could be tempting to glance at your social media accounts, especially when you start to get bored with what you’re studying.

To avoid such a tendency, it would be best to leave your smartphone somewhere far from where you are studying. Another effective way is to completely turn it off and turn it back on again when you finally finish your learning session.

Do not watch T.V. while studying.

This tip is quite sure, as evident as it can get. However, some students still do this without contemplating the consequences of such action. Studying and watching T.V. at the same time will result in wasted time, all in all. This tip is a matter of self-discipline, so push yourself to turn off the T.V. and prioritize studying first. 

Use your time wisely.

Your schedule at the university is different than that of your high school classes. You will have plenty of breaks in between classes, or when you run a tight schedule, you still have some time free, probably on some days of the week.

Use your free time wisely and start on your assignments and studies earlier. It enables you to finish everything on time and saves you from the stress of cramming and tight deadlines. 

Focus on what you need.

If you have one specific lesson that you would like to study, focus on that and leave the other courses later. Keep away other materials, books, and notes that are not related to the coursework that you’re studying.

Having everything on your desk will only make you lose focus on your priorities and allow you to jump from different subjects, probably rushing and feeling pressure to finish everything in a short time. It is essential to study one topic at a time.

Spending Habits of Modern College Students

These days, an average college student is often stereotyped as one who parties on many nights, spending too much money on morning coffee. On the other hand, some are perceived to prefer food in convenience stores and go for cheap eats. Whatever applies to a college student might be different from another.

But one thing is for sure: college kids nowadays spend the most on food, technology, and vanity. Gone are the days when a college student is judged to eat at Ramen noodle restaurants and wear clothes from Goodwill. 

Compared to college students’ spending habits in the past, today’s college students have so many things to spend. In 2011, an average student owned about six digital devices, and 98% of these students own a desktop or a laptop. 

The convenience of generating and using a credit card has also impacted the spending habits of college students. It is easy to simply swipe and pay for everything you want with your credit card, but you must be responsible for paying your dues and bills.

U.S. News and World Report show an article where college students often make mistakes with their credit cards. These instances are realistic and might be happening to many young learners these days. 

There are numerous ways to keep your spending at bay. Some shops offer college students discounts, so you can also take advantage of your student status. This is the time for you to educate yourself on financial literacy, and you will surely enjoy your college experience without financial stress and burdens. 

Interaction with Peers

Your college peers’ influence plays a significant role in your growth, especially in your undergraduate years. Your peers can impact many factors of your college life, from your cognitive skills, intellectual growth, verbal competence, and moral development to psychosocial change and development of attitudes and values.

They even go as far as influencing your quality of life after college. Strongly built friendships in college last far longer than just the four years you spend together.

As the power of your family’s influence plateaus, the power of peer influence gradually increases as a student gets older and enters a higher level of education. Opinions of classmates and peers have overshadowed those of the family and even one’s self.

One’s school culture could determine one’s receptivity to peer influence. However, whatever their effect might be, it sure is crucial to build or break your motivation to succeed in your academics.  

Modern College Students’ Perspectives on Their Future Careers

Noticeably, a significant percentage of Americans with a college degree increased from 1940 to 2019, according to Statista. This impressive increase is caused by how college students think of the benefits of a college degree. presents data stating that 84% of Americans express how extremely or crucial higher education is.

Better job opportunities, having a comfortable life, and financial growth are expected to be the results of finishing higher education. Thus, many modern college students these days choose high-demand majors rather than pursuing what they are genuinely passionate about.  

Unfortunately, having a high school diploma is no longer enough to open doors to unlimited opportunities in the current era. The U.S. has shifted its focus on economic activities where white-collared workers are offered jobs that require vast knowledge and high standards of education.

The country is no longer engaged in manufacturing-based businesses where it would be acceptable to hire a high school graduate. Hence, people nowadays believe in the power of education as their ticket to a better way of life.

The current college students feel that the best way to land a good job and build their career is to finish their higher education. It gives them a competitive edge in the career market. Many companies define a college graduate person to be an asset in their business organization.

That’s why they would even go as far as paying for their selected candidates’ tuition fees because a higher education diploma is substantial to the hiring company’s students.