Posted June 4, 2020 by Mark Perna
An uncertain future is leading many to rethink their plans. Mark’s article, “College In The Fall? Gen-Z Students Are Not So Sure,” published at Forbes.com on June 4, 2020.
Like almost every other sector, higher education is in flux right now. Fully 17% of current college students are considering not returning in the fall—a number that will likely only climb as the financial impact of the pandemic deepens.
With a record $1.6 trillion clocked in student loan debt in 2020, it’s little wonder that many Gen-Z students are rethinking their college plans. College debt now outstrips credit card and auto loan debt and is second only to mortgage debt in the U.S.—leading many to ask the question, is college worth it?
Of course, the answer is different for each individual. But, in light of the uncertainty surrounding higher education for the 20–21 school year, the plunge into student loan debt is becoming less attractive by the minute.
Fortunately, there are alternatives.
Summer swirl—completing basic college credits at a cheaper institution during the summer to save time and money—is about to turn into a whirlwind. The “corona swirl,” as some are calling it, makes sense for many students who balk at paying top tuition dollar for video lectures. And with families everywhere feeling the financial impact of the pandemic, many will have to choose between a cheaper alternative to their four-year school or university—and not going back to college at all.
Though community college was once derisively called “13th grade,” perceptions are shifting. An AP study found that 71% of Americans believe it is beneficial for some students to attend a community college instead of a four-year institution, with a similar number agreeing that a community college education is “excellent” or “good.”
Community colleges, in general, cost just a third of what students pay at a four-year college or university—and many online colleges cost even less. And of course, there are alternatives to the college path altogether, including apprenticeships, trade schools and other specialized industry training organizations.
Community and online colleges are poised to meet the demand of a new body of students searching for the higher-ed option that works for them. In a time when many things feel beyond our control, Gen-Z still has choices about where their educational journey will take them.In a time when many things feel beyond our control, Gen-Z still has choices about where their educational journey will take them. Click To Tweet