Neon colors. Stirrup pants. Hi-top fades. All are 1980s-era icons that are back in style. But as a growing number of parents — many of whom were university students in the ‘80s — prepare to send their kids to college, those fashion flashpoints may be some of the few things that resemble their college days.

“Today’s college student has grown up with information personalized, fast and mobile,” said Kim Sousa-Peoples Ph.D., director of UNCG New Student & Spartan Family Programs at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). “Parents who have not been back on a college campus since the day they graduated may be shocked at what the college campus has to offer in 2014 — a campus that has kept up with technology to enhance the student experience and support student success.”

As student affairs professionals at UNCG and around the country prepare to welcome the newest crop of first-year students to campus, Sousa-Peoples and her staff have compiled a list of ways the college experience has changed from one generation to the next.

10 ways Millennials’ college life differs from their parents’

  1. Nice to meet U. You don’t have to trade letters with your roommate to get to know him/her before the semester begins. Many students find roommates on social media or using RoomSurf.
  2. No more waiting for your roommate to get off the phone. There’s no need to bring a landline to campus when just about everyone has a mobile device. Although UNCG residence hall rooms still have telephone jacks, local service hasn’t been included with room and board since 2008, resulting in annual savings of $700,000.
  3. You’ve got mail. Remember needing to know the combination code or use a key to pick up your mail? That’s gone too. At UNCG, students’ email addresses also are used as their address for postal mail, which they pick up from a central processing center on campus. The award-winning, patent-pending dynamic mailbox system was created by a UNCG staff member with 21st century college students in mind.
  4. Dinosaurs… Typewriters… Laptops? Typewriters are long gone, but even laptops are starting to fall out of favor, with many students opting to use tablets with Bluetooth accessories instead. “These function just as well as a laptop with the same programs and are a lot more portable,” Sousa-Peoples explains. And, in some classes, printers are out as well, as many faculty members now accept electronically submitted work.
  5. E-books: Often cheaper. Definitely lighter. When it comes to textbooks, check for an online copy before you head to the bookstore. “E-books are becoming more popular. E-book readers make eye-friendly versions that can be very useful and cheaper,” Sousa-Peoples said. Added bonus: Students don’t have to carry around heavy books.
  6. No more loitering for laundry. Hanging around the laundry room, waiting for jeans to dry, is a thing of the past. UNCG’s LaundryView monitoring system lets students see which washers and dryers are available online. Students can even request an automated text message to let them know when their wash is done.
  7. Multiple options for emergency alerts. In an emergency, quick notification is paramount. Universities like UNCG typically offer several emergency alert options for students and parents. In addition to “blue light” telephones on campus and website updates, students can also receive emergency notifications via text, Twitter and Facebook, or as an on-screen computer pop-up.
  8. Keep the quarters in your pocket. Many services — including vending, laundry, copies, even take-out from select restaurants — can be paid for with a student ID card. And there’s no need for parents to mail a check when the balance is low; funds can often be deposited online.
  9. Skyping for success. Video interviews are an increasingly common part of the 21st century job hunt. Some campuses, like UNCG, give students access to a mock interview service that helps them prepare and practice for video interviews.
  10. Taking (some) of the pain out of groupwork. Social media apps like GroupMe, which allow a group of subscribers to communicate via group text, can make all-night groupwork sessions at the library a thing of the past.

But for all the changes to the collegiate experience, some things do remain the same. “Ramen noodles, soda and coffee still are a college student’s best friend,” Sousa-Peoples said.