Chicago — A growing number of Gen Z are doing away with college or shifting their priorities if they do decide to pursue it.
According to Business Insider, four million fewer teens enrolled in college in 2022 than in 2012. For many, tuition costs are too high and the payoff isn’t high enough. Currently, it costs at least $104,108 on average to attend four years of public university and $223,360 for a private university even as earnings for young college-educated workers have remained mostly flat over the past 50 years.
While these realities are impacting young peoples’ decision to attend college, it's changing the way they want to spend their time in school. Instead of partying and forming relationships, they are focused on using college to get a good job. That was Nora Taets' mindset. told Business Insider that she decided to change her major from entrepreneurship to marketing to look more attractive to employers.
"By switching, this will be a way better way to lead to jobs in the future," she said.
That’s also impacting what colleges teach. Degrees leading to better-paying jobs are becoming more popular.
"Students are increasingly drawn to subjects like artificial intelligence, data science, business analytics, and social media," said James Connor, the dean of the School of Business and Information Technology at San Francisco Bay University. "This surge reflects their understanding of these subjects' importance for career competitiveness and longevity."
Gen Z who decide not to pursue college are turning to other options to chart their future. Rushil Srivastava is one of them. He dropped out of UC Berkeley in fall 2021 and launched a startup designed to help people find jobs.
"The experience and knowledge I have accumulated is invaluable and not taught in any classrooms or lecture hall," he said. "Every day is a new exciting challenge, and I am learning more about myself on a daily basis."
Noah Johnson (he/him/his) is a Chicago-based journalist. Follow him on Twitter: @noahwritestoo.
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett