students walking together

UTA Students: Who Are They?

The University of Texas at Arlington has a non-traditional student population. Most students commute to campus and are usually transfer students, many with 60 or more hours already completed. UT Arlington is one of the most diverse institutions in the nation, ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the sixth most ethnically diverse campus among national universities.

In 2020, UT Arlington had a total enrollment of 48,072 students. Below is a breakdown in the diversity of the student population in the fall of 2020.

Table of UTA 2020 Enrollment Statistics Image

What Do University Students Want?

The article, “What Students Want: Characteristics of Effective Teachers from the Students’ Perspective,” discusses the attitudes, behaviors, and values that university students would like to see in their instructors. It discusses and links to a study titled “Students’ Perceptions of Effective Teaching in Higher Education.” Both online and face-to-face students would like their professors and educators to be respectful, knowledgeable, and approachable, among other attributes cited in the article.

What's the Mindset of Today's Students?

On May 24, 2020, The Pew Research Center released an essay that took an in-depth look into Gen Z. Regarding education, the authors state that Gen Z:

“are on a somewhat different educational trajectory than the generations that came before them. They are less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to be enrolled in college. Among 18- to 21-year-olds no longer in high school in 2018, 57% were enrolled in a two-year or four-year college. This compares with 52% among Millennials in 2003 and 43% among members of Gen X in 1987.

Gen Zers are also more likely to have a college-educated parent than are previous generations of young people. In 2019, 44% of Gen Zers ages 7 to 17 were living with a parent who had a bachelor’s degree or more education, compared with 33% of Millennials when they were the same age. Both of these trends reflect the overall trend toward more Americans pursuing higher education.

Perhaps because they are more likely to be engaged in educational endeavors, Gen Zers are less likely to be working than previous generations when they were teens and young adults. Only 18% of Gen Z teens (ages 15 to 17) were employed in 2018, compared with 27% of Millennial teens in 2002 and 41% of Gen Xers in 1986. And among young adults ages 18 to 22, while 62% of Gen Zers were employed in 2018, higher shares of Millennials (71%) and Gen Xers (79%) were working when they were a comparable age.”

This excerpt from Teaching at Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors is a nice summary of today’s North American college students:

“For college faculty, this generation can be challenging to deal with. Millennials view higher education as an expensive but economically necessary consumer good, not a privilege earned by hard work and outstanding performance. They (or their parents) “purchase” it for the instrumental purpose of opening well-paying occupational doors on graduation, so they feel entitled to their degree for the cost of the credits. As may of them did little homework for their good grades through high school, they anticipate the same minimal demands in college and are often resentful about the amount of reading, research, problem solving, and writing that we assign them and about the standards that we hold for their work. Those whose grades slip in college feel their self-esteem threatened and may react with depression, anxiety, defensiveness, and even anger against us. In addition, they hear a lot a “bad news” from us in their classes: that they didn’t learn enough in high school to handle college, that knowledge bases are full of holes and unsolved mysteries, that their beliefs and values are subject to question and debate, and that both college and the real world demand that they work and prove their worth.”

The Mindset Lists, a witty blog that has delighted millions for over a decade about what has “always” or “never” been true for entering college students, posted some interesting facts about the entering Class of 2023. Here are a few:

  • Like Pearl Harbor for their grandparents, and the Kennedy assassination for their parents, 9/11 is an historical event.
  • The Tech Big Four–Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google — are to them what the Big Three automakers were to their grandparents.
  • The Mars Odyssey has always been checking out the water supply for their future visits to Mars.
  • By their sophomore year, their generation will constitute one-quarter of the U.S. population.
  • They have grown up with Big Data and ubiquitous algorithms that know what they want before they do.
  • Most of them will rent, not buy, their textbooks.
  • They have grown up with a Patriot Act that has dramatically increased state surveillance to prevent terrorism.



  1. McBride, Tom. (2020 February 12). “The Marist College Mindset List, Class of 2023”. The Mindset Lists. Retrieved from
  2. Nielson, Linda B. (2010). Teaching at Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Retrieved from
  3. Parker, Kim & Igielnik, Ruth. (2020 May 24). “On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What We Know About Gen Z So Far”. Pew Research Center: Social and Demographic Trends. Retrieved from
  4. Smyth E. (2011 April 11). “What Students Want: Characteristics of Effective Teachers from the Students’ Perspective.” Faculty Focus: Higher Ed Teaching Strategies, Magna Publications.