High school students are questioning higher ed’s status quo

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After experiencing an unprecedented year marked by a global pandemic, racial unrest, and a turbulent U.S. presidential election, today’s teens have shifted their thinking when it comes to their educational path after high school, according to new survey data.

Their likelihood of pursuing a four-year degree has diminished substantially over the past eight months, with only slightly more than half of Gen Z teens now considering it. In addition, 52 percent believe they can achieve professional success with education attained in three years or less, and just one-fourth believe a four-year college degree is the only route to a good job.

And while 62 percent want to forge their own educational path, many high school students feel uninformed about the options available, with 63 percent of teens wishing their high school provided more information about the variety of postsecondary schooling opportunities available.

The statistics were gathered over the past 12 months in three national surveys conducted by ECMC Group and VICE Media. The surveys were conducted in February 2020, May 2020 and January 2021 to uncover how high school students are thinking about and planning for their future education and careers amidst an ever-changing environment marked by virtual classrooms and economic upheaval.



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