June 1, 2022 – Education

What we’re reading: Postsecondary students embrace multiple pathways


High school graduation season is well underway. Judging by several recent news stories, the Class of 2022 seems more open than ever to new pathways for postsecondary learning. 

Data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC) show total postsecondary education enrollment fell 4.1 percent from spring 2021 to spring 2022. It was the fifth straight decline. NSCRC Executive Research Director Doug Shapiro said the data suggest “there is a broader questioning of the value of college and particularly concerns about student debt and paying for college and the potential labor market returns.”

Because of these concerns, students want a broader array of options.

Hastings, Minn. graduate Xander Miller explained his decision to forgo four-year college enrollment to CNBC. Despite the fact that his older brother chose to pursue a liberal arts degree, Miller felt that option wouldn’t be “valuable enough” to “offset the cost.” He will enroll at a technical college instead. 

A new survey from the ECMC Group reveals more than half of high schoolers are no longer considering four-year college because they don’t think it is needed to be successful. A survey from College Savings Foundationfound 63 percent of Generation Z students, those born between 1995 and 2012, express a high level of appreciation for technical and career education or apprenticeship programs. 

Regional guidance counselors and business leaders have told reporters students are eager for other options. Joseph Thurby, chair of Greater Pittsburgh Auto Dealers, told a local television station, “There’s a stigma out there that everyone wants their child to go to a four-year college, and what we’re seeing is 30 percent of those come out and can’t find employment.” 

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