Gen Z Shifts Towards Trade Schools Over Traditional Colleges

As tuition and associated costs of attending American universities continue to soar, many are questioning the value of a college degree. As a result, we are starting to see a shift towards vocational education among Generation Z. 

Costd Steadily Increasing

With expenses like tuition, housing, food, supplies, and books, the cost of attending American universities has been steadily increasing for decades. Some universities like New York University, Tufts, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale recently stated that students should expect to pay over $90,000 for a single year in college during the 2024-25 school

Despite these incredibly high costs, universities argue that the majority of students don’t pay the full price of admission due to scholarship programs and financial aid. However, even with scholarships and financial aid, families in the lowest income bracket could see the cost of a child’s university education make up 148% of their annual household income. When adjusted for inflation, some private national universities increased their prices by around 40% over the past 20 years.

Questioning Value

With this major increase in tuition and fees, many people are starting to question the value of a college degree when compared with these massive prices. For the most part, older Americans hold a college degree in very high regard since it can set a candidate apart from others without a degree, and college can provide important life experience for young adults.

Because of this, American parents have consistently told the last few generations of kids that getting a college degree is a crucial step in becoming successful and making it in America. Parents encouraging their kids to go to college drove up demand for students applying to university, and as a result, tuition costs and fees could have steadily risen as more and more kids apply for higher education each year.

Increasing Value

The basic economic concept of supply and demand makes the steady increase in price far from surprising, but when you have a 40% price increase over 20 years, you would ideally expect the value to increase with it. However, part of what made college degrees so valuable for older generations was the scarcity of a college degree.

Now, the majority of parents encourage their kids to go to school, so there are far more people with university degrees, and this actually lowers the overall value since it’s far less likely to set you apart from other candidates when searching for a job.

So, while parents have continued to provide American universities with unparalleled marketing for their future applicants, the steady increase in college graduates has inadvertently lowered the value of a degree.

Misaligned Value

These things mean universities have steadily increased their costs by 40% over the last 20 years, while the actual degree has only become less valuable. A Gallup poll was conducted to gauge the public’s confidence in a university degree, and it showed a drop from 57% confidence in 2015 to only 36% in 2023.

As a result, there has been a noticeable shift in educational preferences and expectations among Gen Z as they are increasingly opting for vocational schools over four-year universities, 

Increasing Vocational Interest

Vocational fields, such as vehicle maintenance and repair, HVAC, and construction trades,  have seen significant increases in student interest and enrollment, with construction trades alone experiencing a 23% increase in 2023. Adding to this blue-collar craze is Gen Z’s use of social media, where many young people are discussing the benefits of these jobs and spreading awareness that college might not be right for everyone.

Gen Z is clearly recognising the high earning potential and job security provided by these vocational careers, especially in an economy where artificial intelligence poses a major threat to traditional white-collar jobs.

The post Gen Z Shifts Towards Trade Schools Over Traditional Colleges first appeared on Swift Feed.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / michaeljung.

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