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Growing Number of Young Americans Don’t Think College is Necessary

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There was a time when going to college and getting a degree was believed to be necessary for landing a high-paying job. However, that no longer seems to be the case according to a recent study of young Americans in Generation Z and millennials.

The study was conducted by TD Ameritrade with more than 3,000 teens and adults sharing their thoughts on post-high school plans.

Nearly half of the young Americans polled said they no longer think college is necessary. Instead, some are taking different paths like online courses or going to a trade school.

“There are more options today,” Dara Luber, a senior retirement manager at TD Ameritrade, told MarketWatch. “More students are looking at online courses, doing classes at community college, commuting from home, or going to a trade school.”

From the survey:

About one in five Gen Z and young millennials say they may choose not to go to college. Many others see a less conventional path through education as a good idea. Over 30% of Gen Z — and 18% of young millennials — said they have considered taking a gap year between high school and college.

What’s more, 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. For millennials, that’s up 18% from 2017. (Gen Z was not surveyed in 2017.)

One major factor in potential students no longer viewing college as necessary is the rising student debt and college costs.

“Paying for an education in America is ridiculously expensive and I think that’s a huge reason why a lot of people in our generation are reconsidering if it’s actually worth it,” Malavika Vivek, who decided to work right after high school instead of attending Caltech, UC Berkeley, or Carnegie Melon, said.

There is also the belief that four-year degrees no longer carry the same weight as they did in the past, though a majority of parents continue to feel that they are, according to the survey.

So if you’re thinking about taking a gap year or simply think that college isn’t the right path for you, you are not alone.


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