Is Gen Z Giving Up on College?

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    Business Insider reports on “a soaring number of Gen Zers who has decided to skip college altogether. “Four million fewer teenagers enrolled at a college in 2022 than in 2012.” For many, the price tag has simply grown too exorbitant to justify the cost. From 2010 to 2022, college tuition rose an average of 12% a year, while overall inflation only increased an average of 2.6% each year. Today it costs at least $104,108 on average to attend four years of public university — and $223,360 for a private university. At the same time, the salaries students can expect to earn after graduation haven’t kept up with the cost of college. A 2019 report from the Pew Research Center found that earnings for young college-educated workers had remained mostly flat over the past 50 years. Four years after graduating, according to recent data from the Higher Education Authority, a third of students earn less than $40,000 — lower than the average salary of $44,356 that workers with only a high-school diploma earn. Factor in the average student debt of $33,500 that college graduates owe after they leave school, and many graduates will spend years catching up with their degree-less counterparts. This student-debt-driven financial hole is leaving more young graduates with a lower net worth than previous generations. The widening gap between the value and the cost of college has started to shift Gen Z’s attitude toward higher education. A 2022 survey by Morning Consult found that 41% of Gen Zers said they “tend to trust US colleges and universities,” the lowest percentage of any generation. It’s a significant shift from when millennials were in their shoes a decade ago: A 2014 Pew Research survey found that 63% of millennials valued a college education or planned to get one. And of those who graduated, 41% of that cohort considered their schooling “very useful” in readying them to enter the workforce — that’s compared to 45% of Gen Xers and 47% of boomers who felt the same… The focus now, especially in the midst of so much uncertainty in the economy, is on using college to prepare for a single, overriding goal: getting a good job. The article argues this is transforming which classes get emphasized by both students and colleges. For example, in 2014 computer programming was only the 7th most popular major at U.C. Berkeley — but now it’s #1. And the data science degree Berkeley created five years ago is now already its third most popular. And meanwhile, “last year only 7% of Harvard freshmen planned to major in the humanities — down from 20% a decade earlier and almost 30% in the 1970s.” Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader yusing for sharing the article. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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