TD Ameritrade recently conducted a study in which it surveyed over 3,000 U.S. teens and adults, including approximately 1,000 Gen Z (ages 15 to 21), 1,000 young millennials (ages 22 to 28), and 1,000 parents (ages 30 to 60).
The results are eye-opening in terms of the changing view of the value of college.
- 96% of parents said they do expect their kids to go to college.
- About one in five Gen Z and young millennials say they may choose not to go to college.
- Over 30% of Gen Z — and 18% of young millennials — said they have considered taking a gap year between high school and college.
- 89% of Gen Z, along with nearly 79% of young millennials, have considered an education path that looks different from a four-year degree directly out of high school.
- Slightly over one in four young millennials say they are delaying college due to the cost
- 73% of Gen Z and young Americans say “they chose or would choose a less expensive college to avoid debt.
- More than a third of young millennials and 48% of Gen Z say a part-time job helps them pay for their education.
- 49% of young millennials said their degree was “very or somewhat unimportant” to their current job.; only 27% of parents said the same.
So what does all this mean?
My sense is that high school students today are making a more informed decision about college. No longer do many of them just assume that college is the next step for them. They are more open to looking at other options, such as delaying college for a year, taking online courses, going to community college, commuting to college, going to trade school.
Such options could have a major impact on the traditional four-year, residential college experience that many parents have opted for in the past, often assuming that such a path was the only one to follow.
It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out.
My sense is that the results of the survey see to suggest that there will be a drop in the number of students following the same path as their parents. This will force many smaller traditional colleges that struggle to get students to close their doors. The closing of such colleges would seem to naturally lead to the need for fewer college teachers.
I think Harvard will always be Harvard, and they will always have a demand for what they offer.
But Joe’s College of the Four Winds*, I’m not so sure.
Higher ed seems to have been immune from many of the demographic and economic changes that have taken place over the past several years, but it seems like that is about to change.