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How Generation Z Is Reshaping College



How Generation Z Is Reshaping College

Due to their strong work ethic and vision for the future, our youngest alive are on their way to becoming our most educated and entrepreneurial generation yet. In January 2020, American unemployment fell to 3.5%, and for those 20-years-old and older, the rate is even lower. Still, nearly 9 in 10 Generation Z college graduates considered job availability before selecting a major. In other words, since our youngest generation is so concerned with their future chance of employability, unemployment numbers can’t possibly tell the whole story. Why is Generation Z approaching college with a new set of eyes?

In short, and as a result of the rising student debt crisis, Generation Z wants confirmation they’ll get their money’s worth before enrolling in college. In preparation, most high school students are focusing on new ways to earn scholarships. As a result, the average Gen Z student spends 6.48 hours per week doing homework, 2.66 hours per week volunteering and is placing summer jobs and after-school employment on the backburner.

Interestingly enough, today’s students are obsessed with their education. More teens are spending their summers in school, and nearly half of Gen Z  high schoolers have already earned college credits. As Gen Z reaches adulthood, they’re prioritizing their future – and 82% think college is the most ideal way to achieve post-graduate socioeconomic success.

How did their generational awareness come about? It seems Gen Z has latched onto the latest happenings in the world. For example, our average high school student is aware of the fact that nearly half of American workers are surviving on less than $18,000 annually. They’re also aware that although the unemployment rate is extremely low, most new jobs are offering low wages and limited hours. Here’s some interesting information: from 1990-2018, low wage workers have seen more than double the loss of hours as high wage workers. It’s also no longer true that low unemployment and sustained job formation equates to wage growth, a higher GDP, and a lowered inflation.

Due to statistics such as the aforementioned, Gen Z is devoting more time to learning and less to work. Even those who are in college are working less. From 1985-1989, 74% of college students worked while attending classes – putting in an average of 11.26 hours per week. From 2010-2016, this number dropped to 57% – and students worked just 6.66 hours per week.

Still, just 0.7% of Americans have been jobless for more than 6 months. In other words, Gen Z students are all about employment, and they have faith in themselves. Get this: 92% expect to work for less than 6 employers throughout their lifespan, and 60% plan to start their own business someday. Gen Zers are also starting earlier and earlier – 44% begin their job search before their senior year of high school even begins. 

Today, 2 in 3 of our youngest alive are confident they’ll receive a job offer soon after graduation, though that may be changing with the oncoming economic downturn. Still, for some majors confidence is even higher – especially since 38% plan to pursue an advanced degree. Keep reading to find out how Gen Z students are reshaping college.

Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency , based in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies that range from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian also runs #LinkedInLocal events nationwide, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016-present and joined the SXSW Advisory Board in 2019. Follow Brian Wallace on LinkedIn as well as Twitter.